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Toyota, an established leader in hybrid vehicles, is gearing up for a significant foray into the electric vehicle (EV) market. Toyota has been trailing behind Korean and Chinese manufacturers in the EV sector. Now, with an ambitious strategy that focuses on pioneering battery solutions, Toyota plans to regain its place as a global leader in automotive innovation. The company aims to achieve longer driving ranges and faster charging times, with solid-state batteries potentially offering a range of over 1000km and a charging time of just 10 minutes. Toyota is also improving vehicle aerodynamics by reducing battery height for increased efficiency and range. With a roadmap to sell 3.5 million electric cars by 2030, Toyota is all set to close the gap in the EV market.

  • Toyota developing 4 new battery technologies, including revolutionary solid-state battery for 1000km range.
  • Toyota has history of hybrid innovation and early ties with Tesla, but trails Korea/China in EV market.
  • With ambitious battery plans and goal to sell 3.5M EVs by 2030, Toyota aims to regain global auto leadership.

Toyota’s battery innovation

Toyota’s new battery strategy is not simply a single-solution approach, but rather a comprehensive plan that encompasses four innovative battery technologies. The most significant of these is the development of solid-state batteries, a revolutionary technology that could offer a driving range of over 1000km and a fast-charging time of 10 minutes. Toyota’s solid-state battery, unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries, replaces the liquid or polymer electrolyte with a solid. This not only increases energy density, allowing for a greater range, but also improves safety by eliminating the risk of leaks. Although this technology is yet to reach the mass-market, Toyota plans to start production by 2027 or 2028.

Besides solid-state batteries, Toyota is also developing three other battery technologies. The Performance lithium-ion battery, set to arrive in 2026, aims to offer a driving range of over 800km at a 20% reduced cost. For less expensive mass-produced models, Toyota is exploring lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells. Toyota plans to construct these cells as bipolar batteries, resulting in a 40% cost reduction and a 20% increase in range. Finally, Toyota is developing a high-performance lithium-ion battery. This battery, which combines a bipolar electrode structure with a high percentage of nickel in the cathode, aims to achieve an extremely long range of up to 1000km and a 10% cost reduction.

Toyota’s hybrid history and ties with Tesla

For years, Toyota has been a leading figure in the world of hybrid vehicles, with the Prius model being a testament to their innovation. This foray into hybrids was a significant step towards EVs, resulting in a wealth of knowledge and expertise in battery technology. Toyota’s early involvement with Tesla, a trailblazer in the EV market, further strengthened their position. Toyota was not only an early investor in Tesla but also sold them the old NUMMI plant for Tesla’s production. The all-electric RAV4 EV was developed for Toyota by Tesla, marking Toyota’s initial steps into the EV sector.

However, despite their early innovations and close ties with Tesla, Toyota has found itself playing catch-up in the EV market. While Toyota was focusing on hybrid vehicles and fuel cell technology, other manufacturers were making significant strides in battery electric vehicles. Korean and Chinese manufacturers, in particular, have surged ahead, securing contracts for critical minerals, forming joint ventures with battery makers, and building their own battery factories.

Competition and the road ahead

Korean and Chinese manufacturers’ aggressive approach to the EV market has led to Toyota’s current position. Firms like BYD and Hyundai, along with American EV giant Tesla, have established themselves as the frontrunners in this sector. However, Toyota’s comprehensive battery strategy and ambitious roadmap to sell 3.5 million EVs worldwide by 2030 demonstrate their determination to regain their position.

Toyota’s EV strategy is not confined to battery development alone. The company is also focusing on improving vehicle aerodynamics by reducing battery height, which will contribute to efficiency and range increases. Toyota’s new BEV Factory, led by former Lexus boss Koji Sato, is tasked with developing next-generation EVs by 2026, with a target of achieving a 1,000 km driving range.

Toyota’s commitment to sustainability and innovation is evident in their ambitious plans. By focusing on pioneering battery solutions and improving vehicle design, Toyota aims to reaffirm its position as a global leader in automotive innovation and sustainability. The company’s plan propels them towards a future where Toyota is not just a car company, but a mobility company.