DETROIT - General Motors Corp. says it expects to bring its first lithium-ion battery-powered hybrid engine system to market in North America in 2010.
The world's largest automaker by sales was to announce the hybrid system Tuesday at the Geneva International Motor Show, saying the new battery will deliver three times the power of GM's nickel-metal-hydride batteries.
Automakers and battery companies across the globe have been racing to develop lithium-ion technology, seen by many as the key to mass producing hybrid vehicles powered by conventional and electric motors. The batteries also are essential in producing the next generation of electric cars.
Daimler AG plans to introduce a gasoline-electric hybrid version of its Mercedes-Benz flagship S-Class luxury sedan that also uses a lithium-ion battery starting next year.
Lithium-ion technology already is widely used in consumer electronics but now is being adapted to meet demanding automotive requirements. The batteries are lighter than other batteries, but cost and concerns about overheating have delayed their use.
Lithium-ion batteries common in laptops are smaller yet more powerful than the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in gas-electric hybrids.
The GM and Daimler announcements in Geneva indicate increasing confidence about lithium-ion technology.
In addition, Toyota said in December it was preparing to start mass producing lithium-ion batteries for low-emission vehicles.
GM said the new hybrid system eventually will spread worldwide models across all brands.