Toyota starts BEV race from laggard position

Toyota starts BEV race from laggard position

Business news |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

The world’s largest car manufacturer wants to achieve CO2 neutrality “as quickly as possible”, the company announced at a press event. On its further way, the Japanese want to continuously minimise their CO2 emissions. To this end, they want to accelerate electrification and bring a wide range of CO2-efficient cars onto the market. In the coming years, Toyota wants to bring an increasing number of affordable zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) suitable for everyday use onto the market. This term includes not only battery-powered vehicles, but also fuel-cell-powered vehicles – a métier in which Toyota has a strong market position due to its comparatively advanced technology. Toyota’s big competitors Hyundai and Volkswagen have already committed themselves to a BEV-only strategy; market observers therefore assume that Toyota has a development backlog of two years.

Now, however, the Japanese plan to push the pace; by 2030 they want to bring the share of ZEVs in their product range to at least 50%, they say. To this end, Toyota wants to introduce a sub-brand of vehicles called bZ (“beyond Zero”). The first model in this range, the bZ4X, is scheduled to hit the road as early as the first half of 2022. To speed up production, Toyota plans to manufacture the cars in Europe.

Building on The vendor’s eTNGA (Toyota New Global Architecture) philosophy, the bZ vehicles will share a number of features – for example SUV design, all-wheel drive and a battery integrated into the vehicle floor to provide a low centre of gravity and high body rigidity. The batteries will have a capacity up to 71.4 kWh which will give the cars a driving range of more than WLTP 450 km. A fast-charging CCS2 system with up to 150 kW allows the cars to be charged to 80% in about 30 minutes.

The range of driver assistance systems includes a Pre-Collion system that detects oncoming vehicles and an intersection Turn Assistance that can identify approaching traffic across two neighbouring lanes instead of just one, as well as detect traffic approaching from the side at intersection. The Front Cross Traffic Alert system warns of vehicles approaching from either side at a junction, and the new Safe Exit Assist can help to avoid a collision between an opened door or exiting occupants with vehicles or cyclists approaching from the rear. What’s more, the bZ4X will be equipped with a steer-by-wire system (Toyota’s first) as an option; however, this feature will only be available at a later point in time.

​„Moving beyond 2030, we expect to see further ZEV demand acceleration and Toyota will be ready to achieve 100% CO2 reduction in all new vehicles by 2035 in Western Europe,” said Matt Harrison, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Europe (TME). “Assuming that sufficient electric charging and hydrogen refueling infrastructures are in place by then, together with the renewable energy capacity increases that will be required.”

Up-to-date infotainment and ADAS equipment is one of the features of Toyota’s new bZ electric brand 

More details of the company’s battery strategy were shared by Gerald Killmann, Vice President of TME R&D, following the recent global announcement of its €11.5 billion battery investment strategy. According to Killmann, commercial production has started on the world’s first bi-polar NiMh battery which, as well as using less precious minerals, is lower in cost with double the output density of a regular NiMh battery.

By applying similar techniques to Li-Ion batteries, combined with further efficiencies in vehicle energy consumption, the compamy expects to see a 50% reduction in battery cost per vehicle, without deteriorating range, in the second half of the 2020s; thereby making battery electric vehicles more affordable and accessible.

On the industry-wide keenly anticipated introduction of solid-state batteries, Killmann said that, following prototype testing last year, they will likely be first introduced in hybrid electric vehicles before wider deployment including battery electric vehicles with the aims of delivering higher output, longer range and shorter charging times.

The company expects to deliver 1.07m vehicles in 2021, for an estimated 6.3% market share – an increase of 80k units compared to 2020. In 2022, TME is planning to sell around 1.3m vehicles for a 6.5% market share.

Related articles:

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Hyundai challenges VW with BEV platform

Tesla is the most innovative e-car manufacturer, study says

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VW to open its e-car platform to competitors


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