Mercedes-Benz is teaming with Hydro-Québec in the race to perfect a new generation of lithium-ion battery said to be lighter, stronger and safer than batteries now powering electric vehicles.
The partnership will allow researchers to field-test batteries in Mercedes vehicles and could hasten development of solid-state li-ion batteries that promise greater range and durability, the companies said
As well, solid-state batteries do not use the flammable liquid electrolytes blamed in numerous difficult-to-extinguish fires in electric vehicles around the globe.
Like other automakers, Mercedes is moving aggressively into electrification, with a goal of introducing at least 10 EVs for 2022 under its EQ and Smart subbrands. It also plans more plug-in gas-electric hybrids across its model lines.
Hydro-Québec is a leader in battery research and holds some 800 patents on energy storage technology. It developed its first solid-state li-ion battery in the 1990s.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Testing will take place at the Quebec agency's research centre near Montreal and at the SCE France laboratory, a Hydro-Québec subsidiary in southwest France.
While battery technology has improved, issues around range, durability and safety are major obstacles to EV acceptance.
Karim Zaghib, who leads Hydro-Québec's battery research, noted that EV batteries are not off-the-shelf products, so working with a major automaker that can integrate prototype unit into complex vehicle architecture should allow major progress toward better batteries.
As well, "our association will allow us to test new materials quickly in field conditions, and so accelerate the development cycle and respond to the concerns of automobile manufacturers." Zaghib said in a release.