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Nissan and Renault need lithium-ion battery plant capacity to meet their ambitious electric-vehicle targets

Nissan has started work on a lithium-ion battery plant in Portugal that will support the ambitious rollout plans for electric vehicles of the Japanese carmaker and its French alliance partner Renault.

The plant is being built on land that belongs to the Renault CACIA gearbox assembly plant. Investment costs are 156 million euros and the facility will start operations in December, 2012.

The plant will have a total capacity of 50,000 units a year. About 200 jobs are expected to be created in Cacia, which is 240km north of Lisbon and lies south of the city of Porto.

"The Cacia plant will be one of three facilities in Europe supplying batteries to electric vehicles produced by the Alliance, starting with the 100% electric Nissan LEAF,” said Nissan's Chief Operating Officer Toshiyuki Shiga, speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony.

Last April, Nissan began construction of a battery plant in Sunderland, UK, which will start operations in early 2012 with an annual capacity of 60,000 units. Renault's battery plant in Flins, France will have a total production capacity of 100,000 units a year.

Philippe Klein, Renault's executive vice-president of corporate planning, said Cacia will supply batteries for the Renault Fluence Z.E. electric vehicle, which will be launched later this year.

"The inauguration of the Cacia battery plant is another concrete step in the electric mobility revolution spearheaded by the Alliance,” Klein said.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has set big electric-vehicle goals for the two companies. By 2015, the Renault-Nissan alliance hopes to have capacity to produce 500,000 electric vehicles and batteries at plants around the world.

To achieve these goals, the two companies have already entered into more than 90 partnerships with governments, municipal authorities and companies around the world to put in place the necessary incentives and infrastructure for the successful adoption of electric vehicles.