After ignoring electric vehicles for a long time, Toyota to invest $13.6 billion in batteries

Toyota's first modern battery EV will be the bZ4x due in 2022.
in great shape / Toyota’s first modern battery EV will be the bZ4x due in 2022.

Toyota

Toyota was an early pioneer in hybrid electric vehicles, and has sold more than 18 million hybrids since the introduction of the first Prius in 1997. But it’s fair to say that the world’s largest automaker has been left behind in the transition to battery EVs.

It seems that this situation is set to change. On Tuesday, Toyota announced it would spend $13.6 billion (¥1.5 trillion) on batteries between now and 2030. Of that money, $9 billion (¥1 trillion) will go towards battery production with a planned output of 180 to 200 GWh/h. year to the end of the decade.

“Toyota is of paramount importance to developing batteries that its customers can use with peace of mind. Specifically, we aim to produce good, low-cost and high-performance batteries for safety, long service life and We are focusing on high-end quality,” said Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda.

With regard to safety, Maeda said that the company has been able to study the effect of enthusiastic driving on the battery. The very high power demand from lithium-ion batteries can result in localized hotspots within the pack, but by monitoring the voltage, current and temperature of the cells, modules and the entire pack, Toyota says it can now control abnormal heat generation. Can do. .

The automaker is also setting an ambitious target for battery longevity. In the US, federal regulations require OEMs to guarantee a BEV battery pack for at least eight years, or 100,000 miles, by which point the pack must still retain 70 percent of its original capacity.

But Toyota wants to go even further—it says the new bZ4x electric crossover, which debuts next year, should retain 90 percent of its battery capacity after 10 years. The company plans to achieve this by preventing erosion of the anode surface, which would be required to keep moisture out during construction. Toyota will also use uniform battery cooling and better control software.

Additionally, Maida explained that the quality improvement would prevent the introduction of foreign metallic matter into cells during manufacturing, as cells could fail if metals directly connect the anode and cathode.

By 2025, Toyota says it plans to reduce the cost of the battery per vehicle by 50 percent compared to the cost of the battery that will be used in the bZ4x, both by reducing the actual cost of the battery (30 percent) and by improving vehicle efficiency (again 30 percent).

The plan should see Toyota go with solid-state batteries in the second half of the decade. “We’re developing all-solid-state batteries to see if we can bring joy to things like higher output, longer cruising range and shorter charging times,” Maida said.

During the summer of 2020, the company began manufacturing and testing a vehicle with solid-state batteries. Maeda said a solid-state battery’s higher output means they’ll first appear in Toyota hybrids, which require instantaneous power delivery (as opposed to the focus on endurance for BEV batteries).

However, that project will need to get a handle on the longevity of solid-state cells, or lack thereof, which can be degraded by repeated charging due to the build-up of lithium metal dendrites that travel from the anode through the separator. penetrates and can puncture the cathode. On this front, Toyota has “identified an issue that has moved us one step closer to commercialization,” Maida said.

In total, Toyota says it plans to have 70 different electrified models on sale by 2025.

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