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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Toyota Finally Joins The EV Bandwagon

After what seemed like a lengthy dilly-dally, Toyota is finally getting on the EV train by allocating US$ 13.7 billion into battery development through 2030. Their spending will include fast-tracking solid-state batteries and next-generation lithium-ion battery packs.

Seen as a response to criticism that it was slow on EVs, Toyota has outlined several measures through a briefing made by Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda.

According to Maeda-san, Toyota is still on track to launch solid-state batteries by 2025. In fact, they’ve begun testing a working prototype since last year. Considered as a game-changer in battery technology, solid state batteries are safer, more stable, and less vulnerable to fires and chemical leaks. They can also hold more charge than the current liquid lithium-ion battery packs.

Aside from using this on their upcoming EVs, Toyota says these solid-state batteries will find their way into their Hybrid Electric Vehicles or HEVs if engineers can develop the right balance of power output and stability.

Also on the table are Toyota’s plans to commercialize a next-generation lithium-ion battery that is cheaper and offer better performance for electrified vehicles. Ultimately, this could slash the cost of batteries by as much as 50 percent by the second half of this decade.

Even older-generation nickel-metal hydride batteries are being updated. For its new Toyota Aqua Hybrid, for example, Toyota has developed a bi-polar structure that doubles its power density.

Maeda-san explains that the reason for Toyota’s initial reluctance to go head into EVs is down to long-term reliability and durability. With Toyota building a reputation through its Quality, Durability, and Reliability, their key benchmarks for battery tech are: long lifetime, stability, and safety.

For instance, the battery that will be used in Toyota’s upcoming full-electric crossover, the bZ4X, will be able to maintain 90 percent of its battery performance after a decade of use. Furthermore, it realizes a 30 percent reduction in cost by using less costly materials and structures, and through a reduction in the amount of energy the vehicle actually consumes.

Through investing 1.5 trillion yen (US$ 13.7 billion) in battery development through 2030, Toyota wants to secure 200 gigawatt-hours of battery supply by the end of the decade. That is up from an earlier goal of 180 gigawatt-hours, as Toyota raises its sights for electrified vehicles.

Toyota plans to sell 8 million electrified vehicles in 2030, including 2 million battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. The current outlook calls for battery electrics to comprise the majority of those 2 million units, but Maeda-san cautioned that Toyota can’t give a specific breakdown and said that the ratio may change depending on market trends.

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