August 28, 2015 / 1:10 PM / 4 years ago

Bosch acquires U.S. electric car battery developer Seeo

View of the entrance of German automotive parts manufacturer Robert Bosch Belgian plant in Tienen April 21, 2009. REUTERS/Thierry Roge

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Auto parts maker Robert Bosch [ROBG.UL] has bought Seeo Inc, a California-based company that has developed next-generation lithium-ion batteries that could double the range of electric cars.

Electric vehicles have failed to take off with mainstream customers because current battery technology limits the operating range of vehicles to below 500 kilometers (311 miles), and because vehicles take hours to fully recharge.

According to a filing with the state of California, Seeo’s battery technology may help to increase energy density by 50 to 100 percent, which could significantly increase the operating range of an electric vehicle.

Hayward, California-based Seeo has an exclusive license to core patents from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory that could help Bosch produce lightweight batteries on an industrial scale.

Seeo’s advanced lithium polymer cells have an energy density of 350 watt-hours per kilogram, roughly twice the level of batteries used in today’s electric vehicles.

Traditional battery packs use electrochemical energy storage and become less safe or reliable the more powerful they are, to the point where the battery may catch fire.

Because Seeo batteries are based on non-reactive solid polymer electrolytes, they are less prone to the flaws that beset current-generation cylindrical and prismatic lithium-ion batteries.

The transaction closed in mid-August and financial details have not been disclosed, a spokesman for Bosch said on Friday.

Reporting by Edward Taylor and Eric Auchard; Editing by Keith Weir

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