The future electric SUV that anticipates the Toyota bZ4X and the first 100% electric of the brand, in addition to launching the versatile e-TNGA platform that will share with him Subaru Solterra, according to Toyota will have a battery that promises maintain 90% of its capacity after ten years of use.
Thus, with a high durability battery Like this one, a new electric vehicle that, for example, has a range of 500 km, should still have a range of 450 km after its first decade of life.
Although this data could be affected by circumstances such as the use of fast charging -Toyota does not reveal information about it- or for maintenance received by the vehicle in this period of time and the driving style of its owner, among others.
Be that as it may, the arrival of a long-lasting battery is great news, and not only for the Japanese firm, since achieving its goal opens the door to more powerful batteries whose development and manufacture will generate less impact on the environment. In addition, due to its lower cost, it could contribute to a greater democratization of electric vehicles.
Toyota’s strategy for the development and supply of its batteries
At a recent investor conference on the company’s strategy for electrification, Toyota’s chief technology officer, Masahiko Maeda, has revealed significant progress in terms of its electrification. development strategy in their electric vehicles already the necessary investment for it.
The Japanese manufacturer’s plan is to significantly increase sales of electrified vehicles and they have set themselves the goal eight million units sold per year by 2030, including approximately two million 100% electric vehicles and with a hydrogen fuel cell.
To achieve this goal, Toyota will invest around one and a half million yen ($ 13.6 billion) until 2030 for the research and development of both its batteries and a system for its optimized supply, which will consist of a total of 70 production lines (approximately 200 GWh per year) by 2030.
In parallel, the company works to reduce the cost of your batteries current per vehicle by 50% together with its partners CATL, BYD’s, GS Yuasa, Toshiba and Panasonic.
Regarding the durability of the batteries, the current goal of achieving 90% is really ambitious if we compare it with the one that Toyota hybrids already had (around 50-55% for the first generation of the Prius and around 60 % -65% for the second, according to Maeda).
At the moment the firm has not specified how it intends to achieve this, but what it has advanced is that for its success the plan is based on its ample experience in the field of hybrids and on the results of multiple tests that are being carried out. , for example, around advanced systems of temperature monitoring batteries.
From the results obtained, it is known that each battery cell shows signs of localized abnormal heat generation “during energetic driving” and therefore, they work to control and prevent it.
For now, Toyota will continue to use NiMH batteries in hybrids, lithium-ion batteries in plug-ins, and will also try to add solid state batteries to its range, progressively. In this sense, your prototype LQ it is quite a declaration of intentions.
Development and recycling of lithium-ion batteries: two big problems
The development of the most powerful and durable batteries is crucial for the future of electric carsBut the process is delicate and poses some vital challenges for a planet that urgently needs to cut carbon emissions.
To achieve this, electric car batteries must be clean, safe and sustainable, but so must their manufacturing process. If we start from the extraction of the raw material, lithium is currently imposed, although with the high demand that is expected for this material in the next decade by most manufacturers worldwide, we are on the verge of creating a new -and irreversible- pollution problem.
Lithium is present in small amounts in the anodes and cathodes of the cells that make up a battery. In approximate figures, each electric car battery contains on average about 160 grams of Lithium metal per kWh, which means that in a 50 kWh battery, there are 8 kg of lithium. There are already manufacturers targeting large capacity batteries, so they will need to extract tons and tons of lithium every year.
It is clear that lithium extraction will have to be rethought to make it more ethical, and although there are projects already underway, they are still in very early stages of development. In addition to extraction, the lithium recycling when batteries reach the end of their useful life It is another of the great problems to tackle in the race for the transition to electric mobility.
According to a recent Greenpeace study, a total of 12.85 million tons of batteries of electric cars will reach the end of their useful life between 2021 and 2030, and that it does not exist a standardized procedure to manufacture them – in terms of design and materials, among others – makes recycling difficult. For now, initiatives such as the Argonne National Laboratory at the US Department of Energy are trying to address this problem.