Continental Automotive Systems plans to begin volume production of a high-performance lithium-ion battery for hybrid vehicles at the end of this year. The battery will be used in the Mercedes S 400 BlueHYBRID, for which Continental also supplies the inverter and the DC/DC converter.

The inverter controls the flow of energy between the electric motor and the hybrid battery. The DC/DC converter is the link between the hybrid battery and the vehicle’s standard electric system. It eliminates the need for a conventional generator.

“In the next few years we will be launching production of further lithium-ion energy storage devices for mild- and full-hybrid and electric-powered vehicles,” said Continental executive board member Dr. Karl-Thomas Neumann.

Lithium-ion batteries have a higher energy density, and thus a wider range, than those based on nickel metal hybrid technology. The power output of the battery determines the overall performance of the vehicle as well as the potential for lower emissions and for possible fuel savings. Dieter Rogge, head of Continental's Powertrain division, said lithium-ion batteries also have a significant role to play in reducing CO2."

Last June, GM awarded Continental a co-development contract to design and build prototype Energy Storage Systems for the GM Chevrolet “E-Flex” electric vehicle propulsion system. The Chevrolet Volt “E-Flex” electric vehicle propulsion system can adapt from a pure battery electric with range extension (using an advanced internal combustion engine as a generator) to a fully functional fuel cell electric vehicle.