It might lag behind Japanese rivals Toyota and Honda in the development of hybrid cars, but it seems that Nissan intends to be among the first to bring a mass-selling battery-powered car to the road. The company has just signed an agreement with electronics giant NEC Corporation to establish a joint-venture outfit, called Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (or AESC), whose sole purpose will be to adapt and develop lithium-ion batteries for wide-scale application in cars. Nissan and NEC announced on Friday that they would invest £2m in the new company, which will be established before the end of April. Their aim is to make AESC the world leader in battery technology for cars by 2009, by which time it should be marketing production-feasible solutions to companies throughout the car industry.And Nissan itself has already committed to becoming one of AESC's first customers. "Nissan will introduce its own original hybrid vehicle by 2010, followed by our next-generation electric vehicle in the early part of the next decade," said Nissan executive vice president Carlos Tavares. "We have addressed the challenged of cost, performance, safety and reliability, and believe we have a breakthrough technology in the lithium-ion battery we will produce."