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Toyota will invest ¥1.5tn ($13.6bn) in battery development and supply over the next decade as the world’s largest carmaker aims to stay ahead in the race for cheaper and longer-lasting electric and hybrid vehicles.
The Japanese group outlined its plans as it attempted to quell criticism it had been slow to shift to electric cars because of its dominance in hybrid vehicles that use both petrol and battery power.
Executives said the company, which has a partnership with Tesla supplier Panasonic, also remained on track to develop next generation solid-state batteries by 2025.
Solid-state batteries offer faster charging times, more travel range and are safer than the current generation of batteries that use liquid solutions, although Toyota said a short lifetime was a serious drawback.
“We can’t be optimistic yet and there are challenges,” said Masahiko Maeda, Toyota’s chief technology officer, at a briefing on Tuesday.
“We feel that having identified [the short lifetime as] an issue has brought us one step closer to commercialisation,” he said, adding that the company will use solid-state batteries in hybrids as a way to bring the technology to the markets faster.
Other global heavyweights including Samsung, BMW and Honda are all working to bring the technology to the market around the same time.
To achieve the shift to electric vehicles to meet carbon reduction targets, rival Volkswagen has placed a $14bn order for batteries from Northvolt in the next decade. The German carmaker has also said it will build or open six battery factories across Europe by 2030.
Geely has said it will spend $5bn building a new battery factory in Ganzhou, while Stellantis will spend more than €30bn over the next four years developing electric cars.
Toyota did not disclose any plans for battery plants or the geographical breakdown of its investment plan, but Masamichi Okada, its chief product officer, said the group would spend almost ¥1tn to build a total of 70 manufacturing lines for electric vehicles by 2030.
By leveraging its strength in developing both vehicles and batteries, the company will also aim to reduce the cost of batteries by half in the second half of the 2020s.
The company has consistently argued that a longer-term fix for global warming should be a mix of hybrids, EVs and hydrogen-powered vehicles instead of a single bet on battery-powered cars.
Over the past year, however, Toyota has given more clarity to its EV plans, saying it will launch 15 by 2025. It also plans to sell 8m electrified vehicles by 2030, of which 2m will be battery-powered cars and fuel-cell vehicles.
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