Oil giant ExxonMobil claims its chemical subsidiary has developed new film technologies for lithium-ion batteries that the company says has the potential to improve the energy efficiency as well as cost of next-generation hybrid and electric vehicles.

ExxonMobil said the technologies could significantly enhance the power, safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries. The project is a joint effort with ExxonMobil's Japanese affiliate, Tonen Chemical.

By developing new film technologies that allow lithium-ion batteries to meet hybrid and electric vehicle requirements, ExxonMobil Chemical is helping to make next-generation vehicles more energy- and cost-efficient, as well as lighter, said Jim P. Harris, senior vice president, ExxonMobil Chemical Company.

We are currently working with industry-leading battery manufacturers to expand the boundaries of current hybrid and electric vehicle applications, Harris added.

Separator film is an integral part of the battery system design and critical to overall performance, according to the oil company statement. The Exxon technology reportedly combines advanced polymer to tailor products to battery manufacturer requirements.

The Toyota Motor Co. recently postponed use of lithium-ion batteries in the third generation of the Prius hybrid.The Japanese automaker said the technology still raises safety concerns and requires additional research.

General Motors Corp. is also developing lithium-ion technologies for use in a future plug-in hybrid.

ExxonMobil will present the new film technologies at the Electric Vehicle Symposium and Exposition in Anaheim, California on December 2-5, 2007.