Nissan Sues Battery Supplier It Blames for Power-Sapped Cars

Nissan Motor Co. is demanding 122 million euros ($145 million) in damages from an Italian supplier it accuses of supplying about 900,000 faulty starter batteries that left customers with undercharged cars.

The Japanese car giant is suing FIAMM Energy Technology S.p.A. in a London court, claiming the faulty starter batteries sparked a flurry of warranty claims from disgruntled owners of U.K.-built Qashqai and Juke models.

FIAMM denies the allegations and insists the batteries were manufactured in accordance with specifications provided by Nissan. Instead, the cause of the failures was the “faulty design and operation” of the battery management system installed by Nissan, which was supposed to balance fuel use and battery health, according to Stephen Rosen, the company’s lawyer at Collyer Bristow LLP.

The dispute comes as Nissan and other automakers are looking to invest more heavily in electric-car batteries and have started to map out plans in Europe in recent months, a sign that competition to ensure adequate supply for their electric vehicles is heating up.

U.K. carmakers are especially dependent on an adequate local production network to avoid tariffs when trading with the European Union. Nissan is set to announce an agreement with Envision Group to upgrade its U.K. battery factory in Sunderland as soon as this week.

Nissan said in a statement that “throughout this difficult period” for the company and its customers, it supplied free battery replacements in warranty and ceased using FIAMM batteries. It said it remains “committed to the highest standards of quality and reliability.”

Filings in the court case have highlighted customer data from Nissan in its long-running saga with FIAMM. When Nissan switched to starter batteries supplied by Johnson Controls International Plc, three year warranty claim rates then plummeted from 43% to between 0% and 5%, the company said in court documents.

FIAMM said this was because Nissan later optimized its system for JCI’s batteries.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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