Intent on developing a new battery that could replace existing 12-volt lead-acid technology in conventional vehicles, Ford and Samsung SDI have revealed a new concept dual-battery system. The result of 10 years of cooperative research, this new lead-acid/lithium-ion combo is designed to exploit regenerative braking on non-hybrids in a way that would significantly improve real-world fuel economy. 

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"We are currently expanding our Auto Start-Stop technology across 70 percent of our lineup, and this dual-battery system has the potential to bring even more levels of hybridization to our vehicles for greater energy savings across the board," notes Ted Miller, senior manager, Energy Storage Strategy and Research, Ford Motor Company. "Although still in research, this type of battery could provide a near-term solution for greater reduction of carbon dioxide." 

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Ford and Samsung SDI also confirmed they are hard at work on a long-term program to develop ultra-lightweight pure lithium-ion technology. Batteries that power the automaker's current electric fleet use this same basic chemistry, which yields a package that's 25-30 percent smaller than nickel-metal hydride chemistry while offering triple the energy density. Ford claims the ultra-lightweight lithium-ion pack now being explored will be 40 percent lighter -- and trim 12 pounds of critical curb weight - compared to the old Ni-MH design used in its original hybrids. With advances in technology continuing to proceed at a fairly rapid pace, Mike O'Sullivan, vice president, Automotive Battery Systems for Samsung SDI North America, foresees a next-gen lithium-ion technology as a viable substitute for the lead-acid battery design that has been a staple of the automotive industry for well over a century. 

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