Bosch, Yuasa and Mitsubishi to work on next-generation lithium ion batteries

The pace of development in technologies associated with electrical power, including both hybrid and electric powered vehicles, continues to remain strong, with technology companies striving to develop newer, more efficient, lighter and cheaper battery systems.

In a simultaneous announcement in Stuttgart, Kyoto and Tokyo; Robert Bosch, GS Yuasa International and Mitsubishi Corporation have now announced an agreement to work together on the next generation of lithium iron batteries.

In Australia, two truck manufacturers, Fuso and Hino, already offer hybrid solutions in their light duty vehicles, with Hino also offering a medium duty alternative. The recent Brisbane Truck Show also saw the debut of an all electric truck from Smith Electric, based on an Avia Chassis, made in the Czech Republic.

For hybrid or electric trucks to be successful in Australia, new developments in battery technology are vital. The premium the manufacturers have to charge to pay for the technology still limits the potential sales of the trucks due to the lengthened payback period for the extra investment required to buy the truck in the first place. One area in which money can be saved is improved battery technology – making them cheaper to build, lighter, more efficient and longer lasting.

The three companies in the joint venture say they intend to use advanced cell management and progress in electrochemistry and materials to significantly increase energy content. Reduction in the weight and space required for the batteries will increase the range available to electric vehicles and improve hybrid cost savings.

The operation is expected to start at the beginning of 2014 and will be headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany, home of the Bosch organisation. 50 per cent of the joint-venture will be held by Bosch with the two Japanese companies taking 25 percent each.

Bosch will concentrate on battery packs and battery management systems as well as monitoring and control, integrating them into vehicles. Yuasa will target manufacturing the lithium ion cells themselves and look for improvements in materials and electrochemistry. The Mitsubishi contribution will tap into its vast global integrated business network to build value chains in areas like natural resources, materials and sales.

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