When it comes to electric vehicle (EV) development, even auto giants like Toyota and Daimler are partnering up with smaller specialist firms--in this case Tesla--to benefit from technology sharing and other synergies in their quest to become leaders in the field. So it should come as no surprise that another giant, Volkswagen, is forming a new worldwide research alliance for EV development.

The automaker plans to invest $6.4 billion a year and employ more than 23,000 people around the world to help spur the development of EVs, with new technology centers set to be opened in America’s own Silicon Valley in Palo Alto, California, near Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, as well as at the recently established Volkswagen Research Lab China and Technical Representative Tokyo in Asia.

More specifically, within this global alliance for research and advance development, Volkswagen is examining various storage concepts. In the field of lithium-ion technology, this means competition between specially developed battery cells and so-called consumer cells known from notebooks and other devices, also called 18650 cells. The team in Silicon Valley has been especially assigned the task of examining the battery compound of consumer cells, with the end goal being to increase driving range as much as possible.

Volkswagen is intent on becoming the world’s leading automaker by 2018 and that means being the top dog in every segment, including hybrid and EVs. In addition to forming this new research alliance, the automaker has a clear roadmap of model releases that will help it become one of the biggest EV brands in the world. This includes the Touareg Hybrid, launched this year, followed by the Jetta Hybrid in 2012 and, the year after that, by the E-Up! and the Golf blue-e-motion.

[Volkswagen]