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Nissan Looking for Cheaper Car Batteries for Leaf

TOKYO, Aug 5 (Reuters) – Nissan Motor Co is discussing with Panasonic Corp and overseas companies including Chinese firms the possible sale of its controlling stake in a car battery manufacturing venture, the Nikkei daily reported on Friday.

The Japanese automaker wants to sell its 51 percent stake in Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, which is jointly owned by NEC Corp, because it would be cheaper to buy batteries for its electric vehicles including its Leaf model from other makers, the newspaper reported, without saying where it obtained the information.

The report “is speculation, and is not based on any announcement by us”, Nissan said in an email. Spokesmen for Panasonic and NEC declined to comment.

The Japanese car maker and Renault SA, under Carlos Ghosn, who heads both companies, have bet more heavily on electric cars than mainstream competitors. In 2009 the two companies pledged to invest 4 billion euros ($4.46 billion) to build models including the Nissan Leaf compact and as many as 500,000 batteries per year to power them.

Sales of the Leaf and those other electrical vehicles, however, have been disappointing, meaning Nissan and NEC have been unable to lower battery costs through mass production.

(Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu and Tim Kelly; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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