Li-ion batteries – a roaring success?

10 June 2008

Filling up with fuel coudl be a thing of the past
Filling up with fuel coudl be a thing of the past

In a time of record high fuel prices, everyone is looking for a way to reduce their travel costs.

Driven by dwindling oil supplies and restrictive laws regarding emissions, car manufacturers are developing new, environmentally friendly models to tempt buyers into their showrooms.

For a long time, battery-powered models have been heralded as the future, but their restrictive range and long charging times made them unpopular compared to conventional petrol and diesel models. However, Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, a type of rechargeable battery in which a lithium ion moves between the anode and cathode, could charge buyers’ attitudes.

Typically used in consumer products, Li-ion batteries are popular for portable electronics due to their energy-to-weight ratio. So it comes as little surprise that major manufacturers are investing in the technology. The German car and commercial vehicle manufacturer, Volkswagen, is to work with Sanyo in order to develop lithium-ion batteries for use in hybrid vehicles.

The Japanese electronics maker is said to have invested 80 billion yen (approximately £386,676,000) to expand production of such batteries by 2015, with plans to start mass producing them in Japan next year at a rate of up to 20,000 batteries per year. This deal with Volkswagen follows an agreement between Sanyo and VW announced in 2006 where the two companies agreed to work on nickel metal hydride batteries, now used in petrol-electric hybrids. Sanyo already provides nickel metal hydride batteries for Ford and Honda.

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