Nissan Motor is working on a lithium-ion battery that can almost double the range of an electric vehicle to 300 kilometres (about 180 miles) on a single charge, according to the Japanese business daily Nikkei.

The new Nissan Leaf EV, scheduled to go on sale in Japan, the US and Europe from next year, has a range of  around 160km (100 miles). The Nikkei said the new longer-range battery would be available by 2015.

The newspaper added that Nissan plans to boost the capacity of the lithium-ion battery's positive electrode by adding nickel and cobalt to its main material, manganese. The enhanced battery can store about twice as much electricity as batteries with positive electrodes made only from manganese.

Nikkei also said the new battery would be robust enough for practical use, able to withstand about 1,000 charge cycles, and would cost about the same as conventional lithium-ion units to produce because it contains only a small amount of expensive cobalt.

Nissan plans to make rechargeable batteries for electric cars a core business.

Last July, it said it would help lithium-ion battery plants in Portugal and the UK as part of its zero emission mobility programme.

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