Japanese electronics group Hitachi and Johnson Controls plan to cooperate on advanced energy storage.

Hitachi and JCI, a US automotive supplier, signed a memorandum of understanding this month to cooperate on r&d, procurement, production, marketing and sales of lithium-ion batteries.

Lithium-ion technology is seen as crucial to the successful near-term production and sales of electric vehicles, which will rely heavily on these batteries.At the moment, however, the state of technology only allows battery-powered cars with a limited range of little more than 200km before they have to be recharged.

JCI said, in a statement, that “significant ongoing efforts” are required to advance the battery technology.

Alex Molinaroli, president of Johnson Controls Power Solutions, said: “By combining our complementary strengths, Hitachi and Johnson Controls have a great opportunity to help shape and lead the development of this emerging industry.”

In 2000, Hitachi was the first company to begin mass production of high-performance long-lasting lithium-ion automotive batteries. In the past 10 years, it has produced more than 1.2 million cells.

Johnson Controls Power Solutions is the global leader in lead-acid automotive batteries. It delivers more than one third of the world’s lead-acid batteries to major automakers and aftermarket retailers.