To this end it has acquired the US companies Ovonic Battery Company, a producer of nickel-metal hydride batteries, and Novolyte Technologies, a manufacturer of electrolyte formulations for lithium-ion batteries. BASF also bought Merck's electrolyte activities, and concluded a license agreement to acquire the lithium iron phosphate technology (LFP) of LiFePO4+C Licensing AG. It has also worked with rechargeable battery specialist Sion Power. 

Research and development activities have also been stepped up, BASF says. “Most materials in lithium-ion batteries of the kind currently used in electric or hybrid cars are based on innovations from chemistry,” said Dr. Andreas Fischer, vice president battery research and electrochemistry at BASF. “We have therefore initiated numerous research and development projects for these key components in recent years, with the aim of developing innovative materials for high-performance batteries that will significantly increase the range of electric cars while reducing the cost of the battery," Fischer said.

BASF researchers are also cooperating with national and international universities, research institutes and industry partners. One example is the Innovation Alliance HE-Lion (High Energy Lithium-ion Battery) sponsored by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research and headed by BASF. “In HE-Lion we are collaborating with other companies such as Bosch and VW and numerous universities and research institutes in developing the next generation of lithium-ion batteries,” said Fischer.

BASF researchers also operate a joint laboratory for the development of new battery materials with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). The two partners want invest about €12 million over the next five years.

The company is also a member of the board of the Lithium-ion Battery Competence Network"(KLiB) in Ulm, Germany. KLiB is an association of German companies and application oriented research institutes along the lithium-ion battery value chain.

BASF has also set up a plant for cathode materials in Elyria, USA, starting production later in 2012.

“Over the last few months, we have taken a major stride closer to achieving our goal of becoming the leading supplier of functional materials and components for existing and future lithium-ion batteries,” said Ralf Meixner, senior vice president battery materials at BASF. “We assume that in 2020 the global market potential for batteries for electromobility alone could reach €20 billion. In a dynamic market, we want to support our customers' global competitiveness as a solution-oriented system supplier of materials for batteries.”