Mazda has announced that it is entering into a joint-venture project with Elity Power and Ube Industries to develop durable heat- and impact-resistant 12-volt lithium-ion batteries for vehicles. Meant as replacements for lead-acid starter batteries in cars, the project aims to get these into the market by 2021.

The lithium-ion route offers a promising alternative to conventional lead-acid car batteries, but its application in cars has been limited thus far due to safety concerns – there’s a need for a car battery to withstand high temperatures in an engine bay, and there’s also potential impact forces of a collision to consider. The new project hopes to overcome such issues and bring about a stable, safe battery.

Mazda will conduct model-based research of the chemical reactions that occur inside batteries and will take a closer look at how to manage high-performance batteries from a vehicle-total perspective and develop a general purpose model for use in motor vehicles.

Elity Power will leverage its experience in developing safe, water-proof, impact-resistant battery technologies with excellent cold-weather performance to lead design and development of the basic battery unit. Ube Industries, meanwhile, will use its accumulated expertise and engineering knowledge gleaned from the development of key components such as electrolytes and separators to develop an electrolyte with a higher flash point and better heat resistance.

The three companies said that the project will also bring about the potential for further collaboration in a range of fields, including using the technologies resulting from the JV as base for other low-voltage lithium-ion batteries applicable to vehicle electrification technologies other than starter batteries.