Before solid-state batteries, Toyota plans to launch the next generation of Li-ion EV batteries
Toyota returns to electric cars. Instead of catching up with everyone — Toyota may be the last major company in the entire auto industry to roll out an electric car — it appears to be trying to one-up everyone on its first try. The company announced that the next generation of electric car batteries will have a range of up to 497 miles. For reference, most EVs tend to have a range of 250 to 300 miles. After a decade of seemingly avoiding electric cars, Toyota is now pouring huge sums into their development. The company announced that it intends to spend more than $70 billion on electrifying its vehicles by 2030. In the near future after the end of the decade, it intends to offer an electric or hybrid version of every vehicle in its range by 2025.
Toyota’s 497-mile battery: What we know so far
While it’s tempting to speculate that Toyota will soon put its solid-state batteries in roadworthy vehicles, the company hasn’t put them in cars yet. Toyota Executive Vice President Hiroki Nakajima said Toyota would achieve 497 miles per charge using “much greater efficiency,” but did not provide further details at that conference. The company’s website states that Toyota will use what it calls a “high-performance Li-Ion battery.” This is a lithium iron phosphate battery, not the futuristic solid-state battery that periodically appears in Toyota press releases. Solid-state batteries are still a work in progress, but aren’t scheduled to hit the road for another few years.
Toyota’s new batteries are part of a new EV platform. The company is taking a radical leap away from its previous technology conservatism and turning to giga-molding for its electric cars. Toyota intends to launch a full range of electric cars in 2026, and plans to produce 1.7 million electric cars by 2030.
Toyota’s first generation of solid-state batteries is scheduled for widespread deployment in 2027. Looking to the future, Toyota is already planning a second generation of solid-state electric vehicle batteries, which are scheduled for official use at a date “to be determined.” While it may be tempting to mock an automaker for not being able to schedule its own products, one cannot put a scientific study on a strict schedule. While some companies have working prototypes of solid-state automotive batteries, The technology is still not ready for the production line.
Toyota’s history of success and failure with electric vehicles
Toyota’s history with electric vehicles has been amazing (if inconsistent). The company achieved great success when it produced the world’s first successful hybrid car. Obviously, Toyota did not invent hybrid cars. But no previous company has ever made money from it. This radical powertrain proved to be a huge hit with the public despite the unfortunate design choices made by Toyota. The first Prius looked like the four-wheeled incarnation of someone apologetically muttering “It gets good gas mileage.” Toyota has since expanded its hybrid vehicle lineup to include trucks, SUVs, sedans, hatchbacks and minivans.
After successfully putting electric motors into engines, Toyota seemed to be faltering for several years. It seems that no one in the design department has the courage to let the engine propel the car without an internal combustion engine alongside it. The company’s only haphazard attempt at an electric vehicle was the electric RAV4, introduced in 2012, which had a near-useless range of 103 miles and was only in production for two years. Instead of cars powered by electric batteries, Toyota decided to use hydrogen fuel cells. This led to the emergence of the Mirai sedan, which became the de facto leader in hydrogen cars. Toyota has also developed or co-developed hydrogen fuel cell systems for commercial trucks, and recently demonstrated a prototype of a hydrogen-powered Hilux pickup truck.
Toyota returns to the world of electric vehicles in 2023 with the bZ4X electric SUV. The bZ4X is a competent, middle-of-the-road electric SUV and nothing more (although since it’s made by Toyota, it can probably reach half a million miles easily).
After years of apparent loyalty to hydrogen over everything else, Toyota has announced that it is developing a solid-state battery for use in cars.
Although solid-state batteries have been in use for decades, they defy all attempts to make them a vehicle power source. This was a startling announcement from a company known for strictly avoiding any technology that hasn’t undergone extensive testing for at least 20 years. Toyota, the automotive powerhouse in all things pedestrian and reliability, is leaping further ahead in electric vehicles that Science has not caught up yet.
When it comes to electric vehicles, where is Toyota now?
Toyota has an electric car in production (only one). Currently, the company is devoting its factory space mainly to hybrid and hydrogen cars. Perhaps as a result of self-consciousness about falling behind the competition with electric vehicles, Toyota’s website has consolidated its hybrids, FCEVs, and bZ4Xs under the heading “electric vehicles.” Only one syllable of “electric vehicles” has been removed, which may serve to briefly mask Toyota’s lack of EV options. Aside from the bZ4X, Toyota seems to be focusing on future electric cars rather than manufacturing them in the present.
Between solid-state batteries and die-cast tires, Toyota is taking an unexpected giddy leap on the bleeding edge. Moving away from battery electric vehicles, Toyota continues to believe in the future of hydrogen vehicles with an almost magical sincerity. In this case, the company is not planning technology that is not yet roadworthy. Instead, Toyota is building cars with a complete fueling infrastructure that does not yet exist.
Regardless of whether Toyota uses a battery or hydrogen fuel cell system to power the car’s electric motor, it’s clear that the company is planning cars for tomorrow’s customers rather than the people walking around dealership lots today. While this may seem unwise, it is worth noting that Toyota is currently the world’s largest car seller for the third year in a row. Toyota is in a good financial position to embark on projects that will not generate profits for five or ten years, and it is taking full advantage of the money.
Toyota prepares for tomorrow
Toyota’s apparent antipathy towards electric vehicles has evaporated, although the company has chosen an interesting path when entering the EV market. Instead of trying to catch up with others, Toyota is trying to proactively beat the competition in the near future. While one might want to spitefully speculate that Toyota is planning for tomorrow’s sales over today’s, Toyota has enough money to allow its projects several years before they come to fruition.
This kind of long-term thinking is part of the reason why Toyota is such a perennial best-seller, and why American auto companies (which are rushing frantically from one quarter to the next, with the end of next year a long way off) seem to need a bailout. . The more the economy declines. While the only electric vehicle Toyota produces (as of this writing) is an unremarkable, middle-of-the-road family hauler, the company’s real push into electric vehicles is yet to come. Toyota doesn’t pose a threat to any other electric vehicle manufacturer right now, but its future is huge.