TOKYO, June 13 (Reuters) – Toyota (7203.T) will introduce high-performance, solid-state batteries and other technologies to improve driving range and cut costs of future electric vehicles (EVs), the automaker said. said on Tuesday, a strategic pivot that sent its shares higher.
Covering aspects as diverse as the Japanese giant’s technology roadmap, next-generation battery development and a radical redesign of factories, the automaker came out with a full disclosure of its plans for EVs to compete in the booming market where it rivals Tesla. has lagged behind rivals led by (TSLA.O).
The plan comes a day before an annual shareholders’ meeting, where governance and strategy — including a slow pivot to battery EVs under former CEO Akio Toyoda — will be scrutinized.
Shares of the world’s best-selling automaker jumped 5% that day to 2,173 yen, the most since August.
Toyota said it aims to launch a next-generation lithium-ion battery from 2026 that offers longer range and faster charging.
It touted a “technological breakthrough” that addresses durability problems in solid-state batteries and said it is developing a means to mass-produce those batteries, targeting commercialization in 2027-2028.
Solid-state batteries can hold more energy than current liquid electrolyte batteries. Automakers and analysts hope they will speed the transition to EVs by addressing a key consumer concern: range.
However, such batteries are expensive and are likely to remain so for years. Toyota will defend that with better-performing lithium iron phosphate batteries, a cheaper alternative to lithium-ion batteries that have fueled EV adoption in China, the world’s biggest vehicle market.
At the higher end of the market, Toyota said it would produce an EV with more efficient lithium-ion batteries that would offer a range of 1,000 km (621 mi). By comparison, the long-range version of the world’s best-selling EV, the lithium-ion-powered Tesla Model Y, can drive for about 530km based on US standards.
Toyota said the EV powered by the solid-state battery would have a range of 1,200 km and a charging time of just 10 minutes. By comparison, the Tesla Supercharger network – the largest of its kind – provides the equivalent of 321 km of charge in 15 minutes.
Toyota did not provide details of the expected cost or investment required for the plans.
The automaker’s engineers are looking to revamp its EV strategy from last year to better compete.
A Toyota EV car is seen at the Bangkok International Motor Show on March 30, 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. Reuters/So Xia Tun
The roadmap detailed Tuesday showed that under new CEO Koji Sato, Toyota has adopted many of the improvements that engineers and planners have been developing as alternatives for months.
This includes the use of electric-axles and other technology from suppliers such as Aisin (7259.T) and Denso (6902.T).
“What we want to achieve is to change the future with BEVs,” Takero Kato, president of the new Toyota EV unit BEV Factory, said in a video posted on the automaker’s YouTube channel on Tuesday.
new assembly technology
Toyota said it is developing a dedicated EV platform and a heavily automated assembly line to drive down the cost of the new model that will do away with the conveyor belt system that has defined auto production since Henry Ford 100 years ago .
In Toyota’s “self-propelling” assembly line, the cars under production propel themselves through the process.
It also said it would use giga casting to cut production costs, adopting an innovation pioneered by Tesla using large-scale aluminum casting machines to reduce vehicle complexity.
Koji Endo, senior analyst at SBI Securities, said he was surprised by Toyota’s move to counter Tesla’s lead in production efficiency. “I’m not sure Toyota can hit back in a counter-attack, but it is getting ready to try,” he said.
Toyota’s BEV factory set up in May aims to produce about 1.7 million vehicles by 2030, Kato said — about half of the 3.5 million EVs Toyota aims to sell annually by that year.
In April, the automaker sold 8,584 EVs worldwide, including those under its Lexus brand, accounting for more than 1% of its global sales in a single month for the first time.
Toyota will sell about 10.5 million vehicles in 2022, and have a market value of about $254 billion. In contrast, Tesla sold one-eighth of the vehicles it sold, which is valued at about $791 billion, indicating investor confidence in Tesla’s growth potential.
Toyota has long said it wants to offer consumers a choice of new-energy vehicles, including petrol-electric hybrids and hydrogen fuel cells as well as battery EVs, as part of the industry’s transition away from petrol-powered vehicles. .
Reporting by Daniel Leusink; Editing by Christopher Cushing and Kevin Krolicki
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