Toyota to spend $13.5b on EV battery plants

White Toyota Prius photographed in a showroom
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Toyota says it expects to spend more than $13.5 billion by 2030 to develop batteries and its battery supply system, in a bid to take a lead in the key automotive technology over the next decade.

Reuters reports the world’s largest automaker by volume, which pioneered hybrid gasoline-electric vehicles the Prius, is moving rapidly to deliver its first all-electric line-up next year.

Toyota said it aimed to slash the cost of its batteries by 30 per cent or more by working on the materials used and the way the cells are structured.

“Then, for the vehicle, we aim to improve power consumption, which is an indicator of the amount of electricity used per kilometer, by 30 per cent, starting with the Toyota bZ4X,” chief technology officer Masahiko Maeda said, referring to an upcoming compact SUV model.

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The company is also the front runner to mass produce solid-state batteries—a potential game changer for automakers because they are more energy dense, charge faster and are less prone to catching fire. If developed successfully, they could replace liquid lithium-ion batteries. 

While it was still struggling with the short service life of these cells, Maeda said there was no change in Toyota’s target to begin manufacturing solid-state batteries by the mid 2020s.

Efforts to mass produce solid-state batteries have stumbled as they are expensive to manufacture and are prone to crack when they expand and contract during use.

Toyota also plans to use solid-state batteries in hybrid electric vehicles such as the Prius.