TOKYO (AP) - Nissan Motor Co. said Thursday it is talking with Japanese electronics company NEC Corp. about establishing a joint venture that would make lithium ion batteries for use in hybrid and fuel cell cars.The move would be a key part of the automaker's strategy to develop hybrid technology in an effort to catch up with larger rival Toyota Motor Corp., which has taken the lead in the business. Hybrid technology combines electric motors with gasoline engines for greater energy efficiency. The proposed partnership would involve development, manufacturing and sales of batteries, the company said. Nissan plans to offer a hybrid version of its Altima sedan in the U.S. in January but with Toyota's technology.
Earlier this month, the car maker said it was preparing for a new company to develop, produce and market lithium-ion batteries, but didn't name any potential partners. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported Thursday that Nissan and NEC plan to build a lithium ion battery factory by 2010, investing more than $84.7 million in the project.