Earlier this month, Nissan introduced it was within the last levels of sealing a deal to promote its whole EV battery enterprise to Chinese language funding agency GSR Capital. The sale contains battery vegetation in Tennessee, England, and Japan, with a preamble the place the Japanese automaker has to purchase up minority shares of Automotive Power Provide Corp. from NEC Corp.
From there, it can unload the enterprise to GSR for a cool $1 billion — which isn’t a nasty deal for the Chinese language firm. Nissan used round $1.four billion in authorities funds constructing its U.S. manufacturing facility in 2010, and the remaining vegetation weren’t precisely low cost to construct. So why is Nissan promoting them off?
For starters, the Leaf hasn’t been the gross sales chief the producer hoped for. Regardless that international deliveries surpassed the 250,000-unit milestone in December 2016, Leaf gross sales don’t transcend 50,000 items yearly. By electrical car metrics, that’s nonetheless a win. Nonetheless, the Tennessee manufacturing facility is able to producing 200,000 full EV battery packs a 12 months — effectively past the corporate’s present wants.
Stories level to the next-generation Leaf coming outfitted with a much less aggressive energy supply and a extra aggressive price ticket. Trade rumors have the 2018 mannequin possessing a variety of 143 miles per cost. That’s effectively beneath the 215-mile vary of the Tesla Mannequin three and the 238-mile vary of the Chevrolet Bolt, each of which compete in the identical section because the Leaf.
Nissan hasn’t revealed its advertising plan for the brand new EV, but it surely’s assumed the automotive will include a number of battery choices and a base value $5,000 decrease than the Bolt’s. Larger trim ranges could even bridge the vary hole. However, even with reasonable gross sales, Nissan nonetheless wants to amass its batteries from someplace. In truth, its Tennessee meeting plant exists side-by-side with its EV battery manufacturing facility and is a part of the take care of GSR.
It’s troublesome to see how this advantages the Japanese automaker. Whereas GSR will get to grow to be an vital battery provider for Chinese language prospects, Nissan will get to buy its personal after having offered off the factories.
“It will allow GSR to develop its enterprise and search for different alternatives,” Nissan North America spokesman Brian Brockman advised Automotive Information. “It should give them the dimensions to additional develop their batteries and search for different alternatives.”
Whereas altruism is its personal reward, there isn’t often some huge cash in it. However, by handing the battery enterprise off, Nissan has alleviated among the monetary dangers related to manufacturing and engineering. It might have bit off greater than it might chew and didn’t need to maintain onto a aspect enterprise it wasn’t taking full benefit of.
“The battery enterprise alone won’t earn cash, you need to have scale, you need to have the availability chain,” stated GSR chairman Sonny Wu. “It’s a bloody, cutthroat sport. The auto OEMs will lock you in for 5 years.”
Nissan has been promoting stakes in different companies, together with components provider Calsonic Kansei and forklift producer UniCarriers, to raised give attention to creating superior electrical powertrains and autonomous driving know-how. Nissan can be trying to push into Southeast Asia with smaller, extra conventional cars since its buy of a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors.
Underneath GSR possession, the battery firm will proceed because the unique provider of the Leaf’s energy supply.