Toyota Motor will invest JPY1.5trn (USD13.6bn) in research and development for electronic vehicle’s (EV) battery, marking the start of a major shift from the automaker’s decades-long hybrid EV production.
The Japanese automaker was the major pioneer in introducing hybrid EV (HEV) which combines combustion engine with battery that resulted in more efficient energy use and lowering emission.
In 1997, it introduced the Prius model and has since produced 45 models of HEV. Its development of battery-powered EV (BEV), however has been lagging, with only four models introduced to date and facing competition from the rising popularity of BEVs produced by Tesla, Nio, and BYD.
On Tuesday (7 September), Toyota announced plans to step up its game in BEV.
BEV more effective in carbon reduction
Rising numbers of developed nations are seeking ways to curb their carbon emission to halt global climate change, and in terms of vehicles, the BEV is seen to provide quick wins on the personal mobility front.
In the words of Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda: “According to our calculations, the CO2 (carbon dioxide) reduction effect of three HEVs is almost equal to that of one BEV.”
“To popularize BEVs, we would like to reduce costs and provide BEVs at a reasonable price.
"To start with, we aim to reduce the costs of batteries themselves by 30 percent or more by developing materials and structures,” he said, adding that Toyota will be developing new type of lithium-ion battery which will be introduced in the latter part of the decade."
Research to halve BEV cost
“For the vehicle, we aim to improve power consumption, which is an indicator of the amount of electricity used per kilometre, by 30 percent, starting with the Toyota bZ4X.
Improved power efficiency leads to reduced battery capacity, which will result in a cost reduction of 30 percent,” said Maeda.
“When it comes to electrified vehicles, cars and batteries cannot be separated…Through this integrated development of vehicles and batteries, we aim to reduce the battery cost per vehicle by 50 percent compared to the Toyota bZ4X in the second half of the 2020s.”
Toyota bZ4X model, a sports utility vehicle co-developed with Subaru, is slated to be introduced to global markets by the middle of 2022, it said in April.