German, Japanese firms to improve electric car batteries | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 20.06.2013
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German, Japanese firms to improve electric car batteries

Three companies from Germany and Japan say they're teaming up to revolutionize batteries to be used in electric vehicles. The firms aim to extend the travel range and reduce the weight of their batteries.

German car parts giant Bosch as well as Mitsubishi and GS Yuasa of Japans announced on Thursday that they had decided to set up a joint venture to develop lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.

"These batteries are fundamental for future forms of mobility, such as plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicles," the firms said in a joint statement.

They added that the research and development project would start operations in Stuttgart, Germany, in early 2014, with production expected to kick off four years later.

The three companies said they planned to drastically boost the capacity of lithium-ion batteries to enable electric cars to travel about 400 kilometers (249 miles) once charged. That would be a major improvement on the 180 to 240 kilometers achieved so far.

Two times lucky?

GS Yuasa spokesman Yasushi Yamamoto pointed out that the joint venture also aimed at reducing the weight and volume of the batteries in question.

Germany's Bosch will contribute the quality management and development of control systems, while GS Yuasa will be responsible for manufacturing and Mitsubishi for marketing. Bosch will hold a 50-percent stake in the venture, with the two Japanese companies each investing a 25 percent stake.

For Bosch it's the second foray into the future-oriented market of electric car batteries. It had a first go at it back in 2008 when it teamed up with Samsung SDI of South Korea. But the alliance broke up in September of last year as it became obvious that the partners' business plans did not match.

hg/ipj (Reuters, dpa)