GS Yuasa reportedly will begin mass producing as early as 2020 lithium-ion batteries that double the driving range of small electric vehicles.

Japan's Nikkei business daily said Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture with trading house Mitsubishi Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors, will develop the cells, which will be produced at its plant in Shiga Prefecture and supplied to automakers in Japan and Europe.

Mitsubishi Motors' i-MiEV compact has a scope of around 170km per charge. The new battery would extend the range to some 340km, comparable to that of a large electric vehicle which can hold a bigger battery and close to the limit of a petrol car with a full tank.

The scarcity of charging facilities has been an obstacle to the popularisation of electric cars, but longer-range batteries can help mitigate that concern. The plan is to hold down the price of the batteries to about the same level as existing products,  Nikkei said. 

Lithium-ion batteries charge and release electricity as lithium ions travel between the electrodes. A novel composition of materials for electrodes will enable the new products to retain more of those ions, the report added.

GS Yuasa is the world's fourth largest supplier of automotive lithium ion batteries.

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