Volkswagen and Sanyo to develop lithium-ion batteries
Volkswagen joined Wednesday the car industry rush to try out new-style lithium-ion batteries, signing an accord with Sanyo of Japan and forecasting that one of its car brands might roll out a first hybrid model by 2010, the dpa reported.
The rising price of oil and scientific advances in rechargeable battery research have put a focus back on the batteries. Electric cars suffered from a lack of range, but batteries come into their own in hybrid cars which have a fuel tank on board.
A statement by Sanyo Electric Co in Osaka said the lithium-ion system was intended for hybrid electric vehicles, noting that the two companies had co-developed nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries in the past.
Sanyo had already supplied Ni-MH batteries to Ford and Honda as well. Hybrid cars have both an electric motor and a small internal- combustion engine that continuously charges the battery.
The statement by Volkswagen Group in Wolfsburg, Germany said Europe's biggest carmaker was contemplating cars that could switch off the engine and drive large distances with electric power only.
"Emission-free, all-electric driving is possible nowadays, but with limited speed and range. That is why new batteries have to be developed that are suited in their capacity, size, weight and cost to the cars of tomorrow," VW said.
Chief executive Martin Winterkorn was quoted as saying, "Electrifying propulsion is the right way to secure tomorrow's mobility."
Volkswagen unveiled in March a "study" for a hybrid version of its mass-market Golf model, using a diesel engine with an electric unit and a seven-speed gearbox.
The company said it expected a lithium-ion car be feasible by 2010 but did not specify which of its brands would deploy the technology.