Daimler has announced a breakthrough in lithium-ion battery technology and will be the first to use it in an automotive application.

The new battery will be used in production of the S400 BlueHybrid from 2009.

Daimler says its breakthrough is because it has integrated the lithium-ion battery into the vehicle's climate control system. This ensures it always works at optimal system temperatures of between 15 and 35°C, which in turn makes it possible for the battery to provide long service life and maximum performance.

Daimler holds 25 patents related to the technology.

In a statement the company said that the main advantages offered by the new lithium-ion battery are its very compact dimensions and its far superior performance compared to conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries.

The weight/power ratio of the entire battery is 1,900 watts per litre. In addition the battery offers high ampere-hour efficiency, long service life and great reliability, even at very low temperatures. Safety is comparable to today's auto batteries.

Engineers are now exploring whether the technology can also be applied to electric and fuel cell-powered cars, as well as hybrids.

The S 400 BlueHybrid has average CO2 emissions of 190 g/km. Further reduction could potentially come from a diesel hybrid combination.

Daimler worked with Continental, which will be the first battery manufacturer to series produce an automotive lithium-ion battery.

The supplier is also working with General Motors on lithium-ion batteries for its plug-in hybrids.