Toyota charges into electric-vehicle battery development

21 February 2020

21 February 2020

Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) and Toyota Industries have announced the development of a new battery for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

The new battery comes ahead of growing anticipation of HEV development and market introduction, which Toyota expects to expand rapidly as more consumers steer away from internal combustion engine vehicles.

Both companies will discuss target vehicle models as well as battery specifications and performance before Toyota fits any HEVs with the new units.

Battery production is planned to take place at Toyota Industries’ Kyowa plant (Obu-shi, Aichi Prefecture) and a site close to its Higashiura plant (Higashiura-cho, Chita-gun, Aichi Prefecture). The partners believe this move will meet the upcoming demand for increased production of Toyota HEVs.

Prismatic batteries

Toyota and Panasonic recently announced a decision to establish Prime Planet Energy and Solutions, Inc. This new joint venture will specialise in the development and production of prismatic lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (EVs). The venture will also work on more advanced energy storage solutions like solid-state batteries.

Using solid electrolytes rather than liquid ones, solid-state batteries would be safer than lithium-ion units currently on the market. Undoubtedly this technology would prove to be a game-changer in the EV market.

These products won’t be developed exclusively for Toyota vehicles either. Instead, the joint venture will supply batteries ′broadly and stably, to all customers.’

This announcement comes a year after the two companies concluded a business-integration contract and a joint-venture contract aimed at establishing a new company.

Operations are expected to begin on 1 April 2020, with one head office in Tokyo and the other in Kansai. Toyota will own the majority of the venture at 51%, with Panasonic overseeing 49%. Approximately 5,100 employees will work at Prime Planet Energy and Solutions, including 2,400 at a subsidiary in China.

Electrified outlook

While Toyota did announce its first production battery-electric vehicle (BEV) in October last year, these latest moves demonstrate the company’s continuing commitment to a wider range of electrified vehicles. This plays into Toyota’s predicted ′surge’ in demand for EVs, both fully electric and hybrid.

In 2019, the carmaker brought forward its goal of selling 5.5 million electrified vehicles by five years to 2025. This includes petrol-electric hybrids, plug-in hybrids, BEVs and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. Nearly one million of these sales is predicted to be from BEVs.