Toyota has confirmed plans to invest significantly into electric vehicle batteries, announcing it will spend US$14billion on developing the technology.
The investment follows an apparent breakthrough Toyota has had with solid state batteries. Lauded by most pundits as being an emerging gamechanger for electric vehicle range and charging speed capabilities, solid state batteries are the next big nut for mainstream manufacturers to crack in order to make EVs more attractive to customers.
Toyota says that it’s on target to develop its own solid state batteries by 2025. Speaking during an online briefing, the brand’s chief technology officer, Masahiko Maeda, said that Toyota had commenced test driving a working solid-state battery prototype last year.
“By establishing a system for both development and supply, we will promote the dissemination of electrified vehicles, including BEVs,” Maeda said.
Toyota’s push for solid state tech is expected to cut the costs of batteries by some 50 per cent. If successful, this will help lower the entry cost for those wanting an affordable electric vehicle. This also applies for hybrid vehicles, which are also expected to utilise the solid-state tech.
While some premium markets are starting to witness price parity between EV and internal combustion engine models, there’s still some way to go at the most affordable end of the market.
The announcement may signal the end of Toyota’s perceived company cynicism of electric vehicles. The world’s largest car manufacturer has yet to produce a fully electric vehicle, although its RAV4-sized bZ4x is set to be revealed in production form soon.
On top of showing off the bZ4x concept in April, Toyota also confirmed that it’s developing six other ‘bZ-series’ electric vehicles, and 15 electric vehicles in total.
In explaining why Toyota was ‘slow’ to get the ball rolling with full electrification, Maeda said the firm wasn’t wanting to compromise on safety, price, or performance. “There’s a trade-off. If we focus on safety, then performance suffers,” he said.
While that may be true, it’s no secret that Toyota has also sunken significant investment into hydrogen vehicles. Most notably, the brand launched its new Mirai late last year, and more recently it’s been testing an internal combustion engine Toyota Corolla race car fueled by hydrogen.
It’s expected that Toyota will continue to have ‘a buck each way’, with products in both the EV segment and the hydrogen segment.