BMW's foray into the world of hybrids is expected to begin at some point this year with the release of a hybrid variant of the 7-series flagship and eventually the X5 and X6 SUVs as well. While development for those cars is mostly complete, BMW is preparing its next-generation of hybrids and all-electric vehicles and today has announced a new battery supplier for the future vehicles.

The new models are being developed under BMW’s recently established Project i division and will include a whole assortment of vehicles including city cars, coupes, roadsters, and even a scooter or two. Powering them will be arrays of lithium-ion battery cells provided by a joint venture between Bosch and Samsung SDI called SB LiMotive.

SB LiMotive, which recently acquired General Motors' hybrid battery supplier Cobasys, is a 50-50 joint venture between Bosch and a South Korean lithium-ion battery supplier that specializes in consumer electronics applications.

Integration of lithium-ion battery cells in a car requires higher standards in terms of durability, operational stability and safety, which is where Bosch's century-long experience in the auto industry comes into play.

"The decision is a major milestone along the way to serial production of the Megacity Vehicle. The battery is a key component in any electric vehicle - it determines the range and performance of the car," BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said in a statement today. "With SB LiMotive we have selected a supplier who offers the best available technology, combining leading German automotive expertise with future-oriented Korean battery know-how."

The news bodes well for those of us looking forward to BMW's Project i cars, and puts the program one step closer to reality.