Daimler Teams with Evonik on Li-ion Battery Development

By KBB.com Editors on December 16, 2008 1:23 PM

Reinforcing its stated intent to become a leader in the electric vehicle field, Daimler AG has joined forces with Evonik Industries AG to engineer and manufacture advanced Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries based on Evonik technology for use in hybrids and EVs. Initially, this joint venture sees Daimler assume a 49.9 percent holding in Li-Tec Vermogensverwaltung GmbH (Li-Tec), which had been a subsidiary operation of Evonik. However, both key principals are looking to add a third partner who can provide additional expertise in the areas of electrical and electronic systems integration. Also in the mix are plans for a second subsidiary that will focus on development and production of batteries and battery systems for automotive applications. Daimler will hold 90 percent of that operation and Evonik the remaining 10.

The heads of both of these German firms see this new Li-Tec matchup as an ideal pairing of strength with strength. "Evonik is the only company that can actually bring about commercial series production of battery cells of this kind," says Werner Müller, CEO of Evonik Industries AG. "We will also continue our ongoing investment in relevant future technologies. In the last 30 years, Daimler engineers have registered over 600 patents associated with battery-powered vehicles -- over 230 of which were in the field of lithium-ion technology," comments Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Beyond their high energy-density capability and long service life, Evonik's new Li-ion batteries incorporate a proprietary ceramic separator that prevents internal shorting between the anode and cathode. That added safety element makes them ideal for withstanding the rigors of more demanding automotive applications. Their flat-cell configuration also lends itself more readily to packaging requirements. Mercedes-Benz will use the first-generation of these flat-call Li-ion batteries in its own line of electric and hybrid vehicles that go on sale in the next two to three years. Li-Tec also intends to provide batteries to other automakers.