Toyota has long been a leader in the development of hybrid vehicles, dating back to 1997 when it first introduced the Prius. Now, it looks like it's trying to continue leading the way when it comes to these technologies.
On Tuesday, the automaker said it intends to invest more than $13.5 billion by the year 2030 to develop electric and hybrid vehicle batteries for its vehicles.
Toyota’s push for electric vehicle supremacy couldn’t come at a better time. Electric and hybrid vehicle sales jumped 81% in the first quarter of 2021. In 2022, the company plans to deliver its first all-electric line-up.
What we can expect from Toyota
The first thing Toyota plans on doing is slashing the cost of its batteries. It said it plans on making that happen by reexamining the materials used in the batteries and the structure of the power cells -- most likely an effort to extend the service life of the batteries. The company may also eventually choose to replace liquid lithium-ion batteries.
"Then, for the vehicle, we aim to improve power consumption, which is an indicator of the amount of electricity used per kilometer, by 30%, starting with the Toyota bZ4X," Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda told a press briefing. "We are still searching for the best materials to use," he said.
VW says it’s in it to win it, too
If successful, Toyota’s investment in electric vehicle batteries could put it ahead of the competition. The competitor that most industry watchers pit against Toyota is Volkswagen (VW). Not to be outdone by Toyota’s announcement, the world's second-largest automaker also said on Tuesday that it’s possible it will also increase its investment in electric vehicles.
Rather than try to go head-to-head with the bigger EV wannabes like Ford and GM to try and win an entire continent, VW’s battle plan seems to be set on conquering the EV market starting with smaller countries. The company’s first conquests? Sweden and Switzerland.
“The short story in both markets is that Volkswagen Group is now king of the market,” said CleanTechnica’s Zachary Shahan.
“Its various fully electric offerings across several brands -- several of the models built electric from the ground up -- have quickly shot the automaker into a strong leadership position, as many Volkswagen fans and staff have long said would happen, and as many Tesla fans and overall Volkswagen skeptics have questioned or said would not happen.”