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Toyota is now joining other major carmakers in the EV race and is committed to improving supply systems and the general health of its batteries.
Toyota Motor Corp (TYO: 7203) plans to spend $13.5 billion to be at the forefront of next-level automotive technology. The Japanese car company is looking to develop its own Toyota electronic vehicle (EV) batteries and supply systems by 2030.
Toyota first pioneered hybrid-gasoline automobiles with the introduction of the Prius. The automotive manufacturer now looks set to roll out its inaugural all-electric vehicles next year, while cutting battery costs by at least 30%. It will achieve this by altering the cell structure and raw materials used in production. The company is already a pioneer in the development of electric vehicle batteries within the automotive industry.
Toyota is also looking to improve the overall performance of its electric vehicles. Chief Technology Officer, Masahiko Maeda, touched on the subject during a briefing. He mentioned an upcoming SUV model from the brand as one to begin featuring the proposed improvements. In Maeda’s own words:
“Then, for the vehicle, we aim to improve power consumption, which is an indicator of the amount of electricity used per kilometer, by 30%, starting with the Toyota bZ4X.”
Toyota to Spearhead Solid-State Battery Mass Production
On the subject of battery improvements and performance, Toyota is also charting the course in the production of solid-state batteries. Solid-state batteries pack more energy, charge faster, and are less prone to catching fire. Successful mass production of such batteries will potentially influence the way automobile companies presently manufacture car batteries. In addition, solid-state batteries could replace liquid lithium-ion batteries as the norm.
Toyota says that despite some manufacturing challenges encountered, it remains committed to producing solid-state batteries by the mid-2020s. Maeda says the company is still on the lookout for the best production materials. Also, Toyota noted that it intends to use solid-state batteries in its hybrid-electric vehicles, including the popular Prius.
So far, most efforts to mass-produce solid-state batteries have proved abortive because they are expensive to make. In addition, solid-state batteries are highly susceptible to cracking during operation.
Toyota EV Batteries Commitment Part of Larger Picture
Mass adoption of electric vehicles is on the rise as most industries are shifting to renewable energy as a sustainable resource. In 2020, global electric vehicles grew by 43%. Sales of electric vehicles outnumbered diesel and petrol cars in countries such as Norway and the Netherlands. In Europe overall, electric sales during 2020 exceeded half a million units. In the United States, the Biden administration is considering incentives to substantially increase the number of electric vehicles on the road.
Electric vehicles are fast proving popular because of technology, emissions regulations, the environment, and cost. Also, a fast-changing market where leading automotive companies are switching to a new breed of raw materials to produce holistically efficient cars.
Added incentives from stakeholders are also spurring the automotive industry’s orientation towards electric vehicles. For example, Tesla is on course to receive 1 billion euros from the German government as it establishes a plant in Berlin. The factory will specialize in the production of renewable batteries for electric vehicles.
In January, the European Union approved a plan that would grant state aid to certain carmakers. The overall value of the subsidies scheme, dubbed the European Battery Innovation Project, is 2.9 billion euros ($3.45 billion).