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The Lexus RZ EV represents the best in battery and powertrain technologies offered by Toyota. Image submitted by Raymond Tribdino

Batteries

Toyota Continues Its Fast BEV Development Pace With Battery Investments in US & Japan

When Toyota announced its plan in April of 2021 to introduce a full line-up of 70 electrified vehicles by 2025, with 15 BEVs, including 7 new models and the already available bZ, it also set in motion a series of peripheral manufacturing and R&D actions. Just over a year later, it finalized plans to create its own battery for its vehicles and to supply to other carmakers as well.

“Through this integrated development of vehicles and batteries, we aim to reduce the battery cost per vehicle by 50 percent compared to the Toyota bZ4X in the second half of the 2020s,” Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer Masahiko Maeda told automotive journalists at a press briefing tackling the company’s long-term battery strategy.

Starting quite late compared to other automakers that have jumped into BEVs quicker, Toyota is now sprinting to catch up.

In the US, some $2.5 billion (~JPY325 billion yen) will be newly invested in a new company, the Toyota Battery Manufacturing, North Carolina (TBMNC), 90% of which will be owned by Toyota Motor North America, Inc. and the remaining 10% by Toyota Tsusho Corporation. In Japan, approximately $2.82 billion (~JPY 400 billion) will be newly invested in the Himeji Plant of Prime Planet Energy & Solutions Co., Ltd. (PPES) and in Toyota plants and property in the country.

The total investment for this battery manufacturing program about $5.6 billion (JPY 786.5 billion) with plants located both in the North Carolina in the US and in two locations in Japan.

By owning the battery production assets, Toyota will never become dependent on the global flow of battery supply. It also assures the company complete control of the battery manufacturing processes, including raw materials procurement, battery chemical production, and waste disposal, and enables it to stick to monozukuri (literally, making things), manufacturing skills, and passing on this knowledge and processes to increase both efficiency and sustainability.

“When it comes to electrified vehicles, cars and batteries should be regarded as one set of products. Toyota, which has been committed to producing batteries within the Toyota Group since 1997 and whose market-introduced HEVs, alone, number 18.1 million units, is an automaker that has been working on battery development as a corporate group, and, into the uncertain future of electrified vehicles as well, it intends to move forward in sure-footed steps,” Maeda said.

With this investment, Toyota intends to increase its combined battery production capacity in Japan and the United States by up to 40 GWh. By utilizing the Toyota Production System and building production lines that are more efficient than ever, Toyota also intends to further strengthen its competitiveness and invest in the training of personnel engaged in battery production.

An illustration showing the relationship of battery development to meet increase demand of EVs. Submitted by Raymond B. Tribdino

Toyota’s battery manufacturing goals are more ambitious. To achieve the intended 50% (or less) reduction of battery price by the integrated development of vehicles and batteries, it is expected invest approximately $10.7 billion more (JPY1.5 trillion) by 2030.

To adapt to the future sustainably and practically, Toyota would like to contribute to the achievement of carbon neutrality by improving its adaptability to change and its competitiveness, as well as by aiming for the fundamental widespread acceptance of ever-better electrified vehicles.

In December last year, Toyota president Aiko Toyoda, when introducing its BEV-only line-up, said that sustainability of electrified vehicles should include hybrids, plug-ins, and even fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs). Many see that as a misguided, mistaken approach to this era of the automobile. Toyota is standing by it, but is also investing heavily in BEVs at last.

 
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Written By

Raymond Gregory Tribdino is the motoring & information technology editor of Malaya Business Insight (www.malaya.com.ph) in the Philippines. He has been covering automotive, transport, and IT since 1992. His passion for electric vehicles started with the failed electrification of a scooter in 1994. He wrote for EVWorld.com, one of the pioneer electric vehicle websites, in 1997. He was a college professor for 8 years at the Philippine Women’s University. He is also now a podcaster co-hosting for the Philippines' top-rated YouTube tech site “TechSabado” and the baby-boomer popular “Today is Tuesday.” He is a husband and father of five, a weekend mechanic and considers himself a handyman, an amateur ecologist, and environmentalist. He is back to trying to electrify motorcycles starting with a plug-in trail motorcycle.

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