Mercedes and Evonik Charge Forward With Lithium-Ion Technology, Research

December 16, 2008
Daimler AG, parent of Mercedes-Benz, announced yesterday that it took a 49.9 percent stake in firm Li-Tec, a company that will produce lithium-ion battery cells for upcoming Mercedes electric and hybrid electric vehicles. Holding the other 50.1 percent is German firm Evonik. Both Daimler and Evonik are looking for a third partner with expertise in electrical and electronic systems integration.

Evonik is said to lead worldwide development in lithium-ion battery cell development, and their first-generation flat cell lithium-ion batteries will debut soon in Mercedes vehicles. These flat cells boast high energy density, compact dimensions, and outstanding safety.

Mercedes-Benz has been doing development work on electric vehicles since the 1970s, but recent energy costs have ramped up demand for electric and hybrid-powered luxury vehicles. Many European governments are demanding electric vehicles on their streets soon; the German federal government is hoping to have 1 million electric vehicles in operation by 2020.

Mercedes is set to launch the S 400 BlueHYBRID, which will employ lithium-ion cells, as early as next year, making it the world's most fuel efficient luxury sedan with a gasoline engine. Daimler claims that "the electrification of the automobile is the key to sustainable mobility." Funny, weren't they saying the same thing about diesel at a recent BlueTEC product unveiling? Regardless, it's good to see a company pushing forward in two areas that will take us toward ever more sustainable motoring.--Colin Mathews

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