Toyota working on four electric car batteries

Japanese automotive giant Toyota has revealed a new roadmap to help it catch up on electric vehicle (EV) battery development.

The company’s leadership spent years stubbornly insisting that EVs were not the best alternative to internal combustion-powered cars, instead proposing hydrogen as the alternative fuel of the future.

Most other major carmakers embraced EVs, leading to substantial investment in battery technologies and deals with battery makers in the past few years.

Toyota falling behind the rest of the carmaking pack eventually led to CEO Akio Toyoda losing his position earlier in 2023 and being replaced by Koji Sato.

Sato created a new business in Toyota called BEV Factory, which, as its name implies, is focused on developing battery electric vehicle (BEV) technology.

The plan includes using four next-generation batteries in its upcoming EVs — including three with liquid electrolyte chemistries.

The Performance battery will be lithium-ion based and introduced in Toyota’s next-generation of fully electric cars launching in 2026.

The company said this battery would provide a cruising range of over 800km on a single charge when combined with improved aerodynamics and lower vehicle weight.

It will also support a rapid recharging time of 20 minutes or less to go from 10% to 80% state of charge.

Toyota expects this battery will cost 20% less than the unit currently used in its first-full bZ4X EV.

However, it is also working on a lower-cost option that will be 40% cheaper than the bZ4X’s battery.

The Popularisation battery will be aimed at Toyota models for more price-conscious consumers and is expected to first roll out in its EVs in 2026 or 2027.

It uses Toyota’s bipolar technology previously employed in its NiMh hybrid EV batteries, combined with lower-cost lithium-iron phosphate (LiFePO) as its core material.

Despite the reduced cost, Toyota anticipates this battery will offer a 20% maximum range increase over the bZ4X’s pack.

The all-wheel-drive model of the bZ4X can provide up to 461km of range on the WLTP cycle. Based on that performance, the Popularisation battery should be good for more than 550km on a single charge.

While it won’t be able to charge as fast as the Performance battery, it will still be able to refill from 10% to 80% in 30 minutes or less, Toyota said.

A third High-Performance battery will combine the bipolar technology with the lithium-ion chemistry used in the Performance battery to provide a cruising range of over 1,000km.

Toyota plans for the first cars with this battery to be released in 2027 or 2028.

It also believes the battery will be an additional 10% cheaper than the Performance version.

In the longer term, Toyota is working on lithium-ion solid-state battery technology, where it claims to have made a technological breakthrough that will make mass production more feasible.

These batteries will be capable of a 10–80% charge in 10 minutes but are only expected to be available in more expensive, higher-end models.

The table below summarises Toyota’s EV battery development roadmap up to 2028.

In addition to the four distinct battery technologies, Toyota also intends to make its battery packs between 20% and 33% flatter.

The automaker explained how this was necessary to improve aerodynamics and boost EV range.

“In the quest to maximise the range of BEVs there is an increasing focus on reducing or optimising Cd (drag coefficient) ratings,” Toyota said.

“Toyota’s consideration goes one step beyond by focusing on CdA (Cd multiplied by A, frontal area) which, because of the multiplication effect of frontal area, has a much bigger bearing on a vehicle’s range capability.”

“Central to Toyota’s thinking is the height of the battery, which is typically packaged under the vehicle’s floor.”

“This can lead to an overall increase in vehicle height, which then has a disproportionate multiplied effect on CdA and consequently on vehicle range performance.”

Toyota believes reducing battery height together with overall vehicle height will improve CdA and range.

“The battery pack of the bZ4X, including casing, is around 150mm high,” the company said.

“Toyota plans to reduce the battery height to 120mm, and even 100mm in the case of high-performance sports vehicles where a low hip position is also desirable.”

Toyota is yet to launch a fully-electric car in South Africa, although it offers several hybrids that have proven very popular with car buyers — like the Corolla Cross.

It plans to introduce its first fully electric models locally in 2025, with one confirmed model being the bZ4X.

Now read: Ford launching first-ever plug-in hybrid Ranger — with potential load-shedding backup

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Toyota working on four electric car batteries