Volkswagen and Toyota, two major players in the automotive industry, have made bold claims about their new battery technologies that could revolutionize the electric vehicle (EV) market.
On Tuesday, Toyota announced its ambition to halve the size, cost, and weight of batteries for its electric vehicles, according to a report from the Financial Times.
The Japanese automaker is confident that its solid-state battery technology, which replaces the liquid electrolyte with a solid one and uses lithium metal at the anode instead of graphite, will be a game-changer.
“For both our liquid and solid-state batteries, we are aiming to drastically change the situation where current batteries are too big, heavy and expensive,” Keiji Kaita, president of Toyota’s research and development center for carbon neutrality, reportedly said.
The company plans to launch electric vehicles with solid-state batteries by 2027 or 2028.
Solid-state batteries have long been hailed as the most promising solution to EV battery problems. They offer advantages such as faster charging times, higher energy density, and reduced risk of fire.
However, the technology has been challenging to produce on a large scale and has remained expensive. Therefore, carmakers have focused their efforts on developing liquid-based lithium-ion batteries.
Toyota’s recent announcement indicates that they have made some progress in addressing the durability issues of solid-state batteries.
The company claims to have made a technological breakthrough that resolves these concerns and provides a solution for materials, enabling an EV with a solid-state battery to have a range of 1,200km and a charging time of 10 minutes or less.
“All of our members are highly motivated and are working with the intention to definitely launch” the technology by the promised timeline, said Kaita.
Toyota Claims Major Leap in EV Battery Tech: 745-Mile Range and 10-Minute Recharge on Horizon | $TM | #Toyota today said it had made a technological breakthrough that will allow electric vehicles to run for 745 miles and be recharged within ten minutes.
— Deon (@HDEONEV) July 4, 2023
He also claimed that the company has managed to reduce the number of processes required for battery material production, which will lower the cost of solid-state batteries.
For Toyota, this development could be a game-changer in narrowing the gap with Tesla, which has been leading the EV market.
However, Toyota’s Chief Technology Officer, Hiroki Nakajima, emphasized that solid-state batteries are not seen as the ultimate solution for battery challenges.
According to Nakajima, there is still room for improvement in liquid-based batteries. The ultimate competition in the EV battery market will be determined by the value added to the car as a product and the efficient control and utilization of battery volumes.
Volkswagen Aims to Lower Battery Costs by 50% Using New Tech
Meanwhile, Volkswagen has also made significant strides in battery technology.
The German automaker plans to reduce battery costs by 50% within the next decade by developing a cutting-edge battery manufacturing process.
The process, dubbed ‘dry coating,’ requires less energy as it eliminates the need for chemicals that require drying.
Tesla tried a similar process by acquiring a startup named Maxwell Technologies in 2019, although they had limited success and are still struggling with the cathode section of their cells.
However, Volkswagen, which has already produced several hundred cells at its pilot line using the new method, hopes to capitalize on its breakthrough in battery production.
The production process can be heavily scaled up, and the company expects industrial production to begin as soon as 2027.
The current method of manufacturing lithium-ion batteries involves mixing graphite anodes and lithium-based cathodes, which are then coated onto a strip of metal foil.
The wet paste needs to be dried before moving on to the next step. This process is time-consuming, expensive, and creates a large carbon footprint.
Dry-coating eliminates the need for this drying step, which could save 30% of the energy used to make the cell and save gigafactory space by 15%.
Volkswagen said it solved the challenge of ensuring the cathode and anode powders are homogeneously mixed and stuck to the foil.
Lower Battery Prices Can Boost EV Adoption By Reducing Costs
One of the major obstacles hindering the widespread adoption of EVs has been the high price point associated with these vehicles.
Fortunately, lower battery prices are emerging as a game-changer that can drive down the overall cost of EVs and make them more accessible to a larger consumer base.
Since the battery is a significant contributing factor to the overall price of EVs, a reduction in its price will have a direct impact on the price of electric cars.
According to a report by JD Power, the price range for a battery varies from $4,000 to $20,000, depending on the vehicle’s brand and model.
There are multiple factors contributing to the high cost of EV batteries. Firstly, these batteries consist of numerous cells, each containing costly materials such as nickel, cobalt, and lithium.
The production and processing of these materials are expensive, and the ongoing demand for batteries strains global supply chains, resulting in inflated prices.
There were some 18 million EV batteries in use globally in 2022, data from Statista shows. In comparison, there were only 11 million EV batteries in the previous year.
Nevertheless, advancements in battery manufacturing processes, raw materials procurement, and scalability will lead to reduced costs in the future.
This would make EVs more accessible and affordable, further contributing to the growing adoption of electric cars, which has been continually on the rise since 2015.
In fact, less than 3 million EVs were sold in 2020, while that figure surged to 10.2 million last year, according to data from Statista.
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