We don’t hear very much about Toyota when it comes to electric cars these days. If it is working on them, it seems to be in no particular hurry to bring them to market. But that doesn’t mean Toyta is not hard at work on developing new batteries for future EVs. This week, researchers at Kyoto University who are working in conjunction with Toyota announced the development of a fluoride-ion solid state battery with up to 7 times the energy density of a conventional lithium-ion battery, according to Nikkei.
Solid state batteries require no complex cooling systems because they are far less subject to thermal runaway incidents that can lead to fires or explosions in conventional lithium-ion batteries. Higher density means more power and longer range. The lack of a cooling system means lower costs. Those are both good news.
The anode for the new batteries is composed of fluorine, copper, and cobalt. At a time when battery manufacturers and EV makers are striving to eliminate cobalt from their batteries, that’s not good news. We do not know as of yet what percentage of each element is used for the anode. The cathode is made primarily of lanthanum. Fluoride batteries offer high energy densities, but often need to be heated in order to work properly. The researchers claim their anode solves that problem, but there is no information about how the fluoride batteries perform in winter.
While this research is all very interesting, it often takes years for such technology breakthroughs to move out of the lab and into commercial production. Toyota, whose electrification strategy seems to be to sit on the sidelines of the EV revolution until solid state batteries are commercially viable, says it does not expect them to be ready for use in production cars until sometime in the middle of this decade. Others suggest fluoride-ion technology will not be ready for prime time until 2030 — at the earliest.
No Prius For Germany
A report by Motor.es says Toyota plans to stop selling the standard Prius in Germany and possibly in other markets as well. The company has so many Toyota and Lexus models that use the basic Prius hybrid system today that the need for a standalone brand no longer exists. Prius sales in Germany have plummeted lately, which has to be a factor in the company’s decision.
However, the Prius brand has a strong appeal to car shoppers looking for sustainable transportation. It’s possible that Toyota could leverage the name to market plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars in the future, just as Volkswagen has its new ID. electric car brand and now Hyundai says it will use the Ioniq brand for its electric cars.
While all the other major car companies are trumpeting their electric car plans, Toyota is saying little about its EV strategy. Maybe it is hoping the whole battery electric vehicle revolution will magically disappear. In the meantime, it is doing just enough to meet the European emissions standards and little more. That could be a good long term strategy, but it’s a risky one a time when every major car company is rushing electric cars to market. Will Toyota still be around at the start of the next decade? “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.