Mazda is linking up with Eliiy Power and Ube Industries to develop batteries for hybrid or gasoline vehicles.

The automaker will develop small lithium-ion starter batteries in collaboration with chemical maker Ube and storage-battery startup Eliiy.

The plan is to develop durable, heat- and impact-resistant 12-volt Li-ion batteries as a replacement for lead-acid starter batteries in motor vehicles by 2021.

Li-ion batteries are seen as a promising alternative to conventional lead-acid batteries, as environmental regulations in some regions restrict the use of lead.

However, the companies say Li-ion batteries’ use in vehicles so far has been limited due to the need for car batteries to withstand the high temperatures of the engine bay and the potential impact forces of a collision.

In the new project, Mazda, Eliiy and Ube will combine their technical strengths to overcome such issues.

Mazda will conduct model-based research of the chemical reactions that occur inside batteries, and develop technologies to manage high-performance batteries as well as a general-purpose model for their use.

Eliiy makes stationary batteries and starter batteries for motorcycles. The safety and performance of its Li-ion starter batteries for motorcycles is well-recognized, and the company has been supplying them to a major Japanese motorcycle manufacturer since 2016.

Eliiy will use its experience in developing safe, waterproof, impact-resistant battery technologies with excellent cold-weather performance to lead design and development of the basic battery unit.

Ube will use its experience in developing key components such as electrolytes and separators to develop an electrolyte with a higher flash point and better heat resistance.

The three companies also are considering further collaboration in a range of fields, including using the technologies resulting from this project as a base for other low-voltage Li-ion batteries applicable to vehicle-electrification technologies in addition to starter batteries.