Toyota Motor Corp and BMW AG are joining forces to develop next-generation car batteries that are expected to be more powerful than the lithium-ion batteries used in most electric vehicles. The new lithium-air batteries will be able to generate a major portion of a car’s power needs from thin air. The two companies have announced that the new fuel-cell vehicle system will be complete by 2020.

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A lithium-air battery has its anode filled with lithium, and the cathode with air. The technology is being studied to develop batteries more powerful that the ones currently used in electric cars. The new battery would enable electric vehicles to run 500 miles on one charge, making them cheaper and more eco-friendly.

The joint research between Toyota and BMW will span a wide range of technologies, including ways of developing materials and composites that will make cars lighter and thus more fuel-efficient.

“In order for FCVs (fuel cell vehicles) to become more widely used, it needs to be cheaper. That would require a great deal of time and cost for development,” said Toyota Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada. “By bringing together the wisdom of two companies, we can aim to make FCVs more popular much quicker,” he added.


Second Image from IBM Research Flickr