The move by major automotive companies towards a high-profile presence in the lithium-ion energy dimension has been underlined by a partnership between Continental and the Japanese company Enax. The Japanese lithium-ion specialist has particular expertise in the development and production of high-energy and high-performance lithium-ion cells for hybrid- and electrical-vehicle batteries. Continental has acquired a 16% holding in the company.
The companies are embarking on what is termed an “exclusive cooperative venture” for the development of lithium-ion cells especially for future automotive hybrid and electric drives. It will include enhancing safety, service life, and performance of lithium-ion batteries.
“In line with our evaluation criteria, Enax offers the broadest range of know-how in high-performance lithium-ion cells, regarding the cell materials as well as cell design,” said Continental Executive Board member Karl-Thomas Neumann.
As an independent think tank, Enax has more than 10 years’ experience of lithium-ion cell technology for automotive applications, notably in its chemical composition. “With this cooperation, we are pooling our innovative strength and creating the technological basis for high-performance energy-storage devices of the next generation,” added Jörg Grotendorst, head of Continental’s Hybrid business unit. Grotendorst will join the Board of Directors of Enax.
Founded in 1996 by the current President and CEO, Kazunori Ozawa, Enax has headquarters in Tokyo and manufacturing facilities in both Japan and China. The company holds a number of patents relating to the production, cell materials, and safety technology of the batteries.
Continental has been developing components including power electronics, electrical machines, and energy-storage devices for hybrid drives for more than a decade. It describes itself as being the world’s sole hybrid system supplier not tied to an auto manufacturer and in that role has been mass-producing a mild hybrid since 2003. Continental will launch first-time volume production of a high-performance lithium-ion battery for the Mercedes-Benz S 400 BlueHYBRID at the end of this year.
Continental is a supplier of brake systems, powertrain and chassis systems and components, instrumentation, infotainment, vehicle electronics, tires, and engineering elastomers and a major partner in networked automobile communication.