Bosch says that all the relevant authorities have now given their approval for a joint venture between Robert Bosch GmbH and Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. to form a fifty-fifty joint venture to develop, manufacture, and sell lithium-ion batteries for automotive applications..

The company will be known as "SB LiMotive Co. Ltd.". Operations is expected to start in September 2008. The objective is to series-manufacture highly efficient lithium-ion batteries customised to automotive requirements and to market them worldwide from 2011.

Samsung SDI produces flat screens and lithium-ion batteries. To date it has focused on components for computers and phones. It has been jointly developing batteries for hybrid electric vehicles with an un-named vehicle manufacturer.

Samsung already produces batteries for Bosch power tools and said it plans to increase the proportion of rechargeable batteries, including lithium-ion, to more than 20% of its sales by the end of 2008 from 18% in 2007.

Lithium-ion battery technology is considered a key technology for the future of hybrid drivetrains. Bosch has hybrid expertise with the electronics, battery management and electric drivetrain but has no desire to produce the batteries itself. Vehicle manufacturers and component suppliers are eagerly seeking partners in battery cell technology.

Bosch's main competitor, Continental, is due to install a lithium-ion battery in the S-Class next year. This technology is likely also be available to other manufacturers.

Audi has formed a partnership with Sanyo to supply lithium-ion batteries to the Volkswagen group from 2010 and Magna_Steyr has also developed a lithium-ion battery. Renault and Nissan are cooperating with NEC and Toyota is working with Panasonic.

Bosch has said it is aiming to be the global market leader in hybrid powertrains. It says that it will do a lot of the system integration work that Japanese battery manufacturers are not doing.

Bosch estimates that the global market for hybrid cars will reach 3m units by 2015. This year 620,000 hybrid cars are expected to be registered, up from 580,000 last year. This includes mild hybrids where the engine is shut down when the vehicle stops, and micro hybrids where brake energy is recovered.