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VW and Sanyo Form Li-ion Partnership; VW to Focus on Drivetrain Electrification

Volkswagen and Sanyo officially announced their partnership (earlier post) to work on next-generation high-performance automotive electric storage systems based on lithium-ion technology. The Volkswagen Group said that it hopes to be able to apply Li-ion technology in its first vehicles by 2010.

Sanyo currently provides NiMH batteries for Ford and Honda hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs). In January 2006, Sanyo and Volkswagen agreed to co-develop next generation NiMH systems. Those efforts continue; Sanyo is currently working on developing a super-lattice alloy for use as a negative electrode material in its automotive NiMH cells to deliver improved power, durability and storage performance.

Our focus in future will be directed more strongly at making electrically powered automobiles alongside ones driven by more efficient combustion engines. Drivetrain electrification is the way forward if we wish to secure mobility in tomorrow’s world. This will involve energy recovery. The whole idea will be to no avail, however, as long as we do not have powerful energy storage systems at our disposal and as long as vehicle operations are not in tune with customer demands. This cooperation is an important step for us.

—Prof Martin Winterkorn, CEO of the Volkswagen Group

Sanyo created a pilot line for its first Li-ion batteries targeted at hybrid applications at its Tokushima Plant (for testing purposes) in March 2006. The batteries produced were then shipped and tested as sample units. Sanyo will initially build a new mass-production HEV Li-ion battery line at the Tokushima Plant, with plans to produce enough HEV-use batteries to meet future demand of approximately 15,000 to 20,000 units yearly.

According to Dr. Menahem Anderman of Advanced Automotive Batteries, Sanyo reportedly is using a manganese cathode material (LMO/NMC) and a surface-modified graphite material for the anode. LMO/NMC is the most popular cathode chemistry today, with good synergetic effect between the components, according to Dr. Anderman. The modified anode surface reduces the sensitivity of the critical SEI (solid electrolyte interphase) and/or improves charge acceptance, he says.

Sanyo plans to invest approximately ¥80 billion (US$763 million) by 2015 in its HEV Li-ion battery business to add new manufacturing locations and expand its production capacity to 10 million cells per month.

Sanyo is also accelerating its development for an early entry into the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) market, with a goal to start providing these batteries to the market in 2011.

At the Geneva Motor Show in March, Volkswagen showcased its Golf TDI Hybrid design study (earlier post), which demonstrated the potential for energy reduction with the combination of a high-tech-diesel, electric-drive and 7-speed-DSG technology. The concept hybrid uses a 1.4 kWh NiMH pack and is capable of achieving 3.4 L/100km (69 mpg US) of fuel consumption.

At the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, Audi presented the metroproject quattro, a plug-in hybrid design concept featuring a Li-ion pack. (Earlier post.) The 30 kW electric motor can power the vehicle alone for zero-emission driving, with the Li-ion pack supporting a range of up to 100 km (62 miles) in pure electric mode.

(A hat-tip to Chris!)



It's getting hard to keep track all the battery making partnerships being announced. Prices will definitely descend faster with each new competitor.

Interested to know what size battery Audi's metroproject uses to achieve the 100km all-electric range. So far, the Volt 16kW battery is the only one nearing production and it is a large structural design component. Presumably the Audi's battery would be as large if not larger.

Audi has a strong reputation and customer base more likely to pay for the greenery of this vehicle. Why don't they build it now?



The Audi (A-1) seems to be a much samller (and lighter) vehicle than the GM Volt. Would be surprised if it wasn't so.

New batteries higher energy density will be another way to reduce ESSU size/weight while increasing electric only range.

PHEV-100+ Km will sell like hotcakes regarless where they're built.


I think the best strategy to develop PHEV vehicles is to start off with an affordable PHEV 10 mile range with blended mode of operation. Refresh the offering a few years later with a PHEV-40 option.

The path we are on ....
1 ) Make a Hybrid with some electrical assist to get slightly better fuel economy. HEV
2 ) Add in an “electric only” range with grid charging, a PHEV
3 ) Improve the “electric-only” range. (10km, 30km, 100km >> )
4 ) Toss out the automotive secondary fuel generating system in favor of extra battery capacity. We now have a BEV.

Infrastructure is to place a charging station at your home, and public charging stations at workplaces, every large mall, hotel and tourist destination parking facilities. This will provide 99% of personal transportation needs and rental cars will fill in the few gaps.


forget them

too pricey and they are always behind their roadmap by 2-3 years

the only good thing we can expect from Vw is a VW up TDI at 14000Eur which does 75mpg



Yes, a progressive approach with (5 KWh or so) modular battery packs would be ideal if you could start with one pack an gradually upgrade to 2, 3 and/or 4+ packs.

Later on, when packs get to be half-size, one could upgrade the 5 KWh to 10 KWh packs. With a total possibility of 40+ KWh you would have a 240-280 KM BEV.

To do that, (some) battery modules/packs would have to be standardized like existing car batteries.

Barry Kellow

Whichever pathway they take, it's good to see yet another mainstream carmaker acknowledging that an all-electric vehicle is the end target. That puts VW in the same camp as Subaru, Mitsubishi, Renault, BMW and Nissan.


I hope to see GM announce a fully EV version of the Volt.

I hope to see a flood of EV announcements from more and more big carmakers.

And most of all, I hope they're inexpensive enough that I can afford one.


And who will be the battery pack integrator? Bosch? Continental?


Actually, once supercapacitor battery packs using nanotechnology becomes commercially available, expect a lot more HEV/PHEV vehicles because the potential storage capacity of supercapcitors could make it possible for smaller battery packs than now use on HEV's, which will cut down on weight of the vehicle and also reduce interference with interior space, too.


At first I wasn't sold on the battery module concept. Now it seems viable provided the upgrades are all handled by dealers or authorized third parties. This should allow entry level PHEVs in the low $20k (US). With dealer/manufacturer financing and government tax credits for low emission vehicle - this could bring the mass market to electrification.


Actually, PHEV-100 km could happen by 2012, thanks to a new battery storage technology using supercapacitors built with carbon nanotubes.

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