Today, most hybrid vehicles are sold with batteries designed and manufactured in Japan. Toyota gets most of its batteries from a joint venture with Panasonic, which also supplies batteries to Honda for its Civic hybrid. Sanyo provides the batteries for the Ford Escape hybrid and its variants, as well as the Honda Accord hybrid.
American manufacturers would like a piece of this market as well, and Johnson Controls, the largest maker of automotive lead-acid batteries, is partnering up with U.S. automakers to do just that. Klaus Brandt, executive vice president of Lithium technology Corp. says, "In general, Japanese battery manufacturers have made alliances with Japanese car manufacturers. We believe that there is interest in getting access to this type of technology rather than going to Japan for joint ventures or other licensing deals."
The batteries jointly developed are to be lithium-ion batteries. Today, most hybrid batteries use nickel-metal hydride technology. Lithium-ion batteries have greater potential energy storage, but require additional safety measures.
Johnson Controls has formed a joint venture with Saft Advanced Power Solutions to develop lithium-ion technology. General Motors, Ford, DaimlerChrysler and the Department of Energy signed a $125 million agreement to split the cost of hybrid battery development. The same manufacturers and the Department of Energy are members of the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, and have awarded Saft and Johnson Controls a two year contract to develop the technology for hybrid automotive use.
[Source Detroit Free Press via boston.com]