June 19, 2024
Toyota reveals its plans to capture EV battery technology


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A problem has arisen for Toyota, the world’s largest automobile manufacturer. Although the company is famous for its simple manufacturing methods and being an early pioneer of hybrid electric powertrains, the switch to battery electric vehicles left it somewhat unprepared. As rivals locked up contracts for critical minerals and formed joint ventures with battery makers (or created their own), Toyota appeared to be lagging behind.

Now, it has released a new roadmap showing how it will achieve competitiveness and sell 3.5 million EVs by 2030.

After some early experiments with electric-converted RAV4s (including a partnership with Tesla), Toyota has finally released a modern BEV, the bZ4x. The car had a hard time launching – wheels falling off would lead to a recall – but a week’s testing of the bZ4x exceeded our low expectations. However, a look at the car’s specifications makes Toyota’s problem clear: there are different battery packs for the single-motor and dual-motor versions, made by Panasonic and CATL respectively.

The slow rollout on BEVs led to CEO Akio Toyoda losing his post earlier this year and being replaced by former Lexus boss Koji Sato, who created a new organization within Toyota called BEV Factory, whose mission is to improve Toyota’s production capacity. To develop next generation EV. 2026.

“We will need different options for batteries, just as we have different variations of engines. It is important to offer battery solutions to suit different models and customer needs,” said Takero Kato, president of the BEV factory.

four solutions

To this end, Toyota is working on four different solutions. Three of these will use liquid electrolytes and are for different applications.

A performance-focused liquid electrolyte lithium-ion battery is expected to debut in 2026. Toyota says it’s targeting a fast-charging time of 20 minutes and wants these cells to be 20 percent cheaper than those used in the bZ4x. The company plans to use it in a BEV that can travel about 500 miles (800 km) on a single charge.

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For low-cost vehicles, Toyota is considering lithium iron phosphate cells, a chemical that is already extremely popular in China and is being used by Tesla. Toyota plans to build these as bipolar batteries, where the active material for the anode and cathode is on either side of a common electrode carrier, rather than having separate electrodes for each. (Toyota already uses this approach for the nickel metal hydride batteries it uses in many of its hybrid models.)

LFP cells are targeting a 40 percent cost reduction and 20 percent greater range compared to bZ4x batteries. The LFP cells don’t charge as fast, but Toyota wants a 10-80 percent DC fast-charging time of 30 minutes. If it is successful, the company expects these sales in 2026 or 2027.

There is also a high-performance lithium-ion chemistry in development, although it may not be ready until 2028. Toyota wants to create a pack with extremely long range by combining its bipolar electrode structure with a high percentage of nickel in the cathode – up to 621 miles (1,000 km). But it is also aiming for a 10 percent reduction in cost compared to the performance-focused pack mentioned earlier.

The fourth battery technology is one that Toyota has talked about a lot in the past – solid state. In solid-state batteries both the electrodes and electrolytes are solid, which means the battery can be smaller and lighter than cells with liquid electrodes.

The technology is attractive, but it is troubled by the formation of dendrites – spikes of lithium crystals that can grow and puncture the cathode. Toyota says it has made a major breakthrough in the durability of lithium-ion solid state cells – which is exactly what it is – which has allowed it to put these batteries into mass production, with commercial use expected in 2027 or 2028. Is scheduled for.

Interestingly, Toyota was originally planning to only use solid state cells in its hybrids, but it appears that it has revised that idea and has them targeting a range of over 600 miles and only 10 Will be put into BEVs with fast charging times of minutes. ,

flatter battery

One final note on Toyota’s battery strategy is one that many of us will welcome. Toyota says that in addition to working on these four different battery types, it will also reduce the height of the battery pack from 5.9 inches (150 mm) to 4.7 inches (120 mm) or even 3.9 inches (100 mm). Is also trying hard to do so. mm) long.

Currently, the thicker slabs of batteries required for EVs mean they are much easier to pack into crossovers or SUVs, but this results in increased frontal area and therefore more drag when pushed through the air.

Source: arstechnica.com

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