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Toyota's plans for making electric vehicles


April 14, 2021 ( Newswire) After revolutionizing Hybrid vehicles with the launch of the Toyota Prius back in 1997, Toyota has improved the technology over the years and still makes some of the most efficient Hybrids on the market. Unfortunately, Toyota lost the EV race to Tesla when they released the Model S back in 2012, completely changing the opinion of EVs in the market from slow, boring city cars to supercar rivaling luxury cars. Slowly but surely electric vehicles have been gaining popularity ever since and several manufacturers have started researching EVs as the future of mobility.

Some manufacturers are also ending IC engine research to instead focus on electric cars. It is predicted that by 2050, the world will be carbon neutral with several countries already setting deadlines for IC car sales. Norway is planning on stopping IC car sales by 2025, while countries like Sweden, UK, Netherlands, and more are set for 2030. With such global interest in EVs, manufacturers have released new EVs with some costing below $40,000 making them accessible to a lot more customers.

Plenty of EV launches are planned for this year including affordable models like the Volkswagen ID4, Chevy Bolt Hyundai Ioniq, and more luxury EVs like the Polestar 2, Porsche Taycan, and many more. Ford also released the new Mach-E that was very popular among the masses.

Toyota is one of the biggest manufacturers in the world sling millions of cars every year around the globe. Recent launches like the 2021 Toyota Highlander which gets a very efficient Hybrid powertrain rated at an impressive 35 MPG are both practical and comfortable with plenty of performance making it one of the best choices in the segment.

The 2021 Toyota RAV4 Prime is another capable SUV from Toyota for customers looking for a smaller SUV. The Prime version is available in two trim levels starting at $38,250 for the base SE model and it gets an upgraded version of the Hybrid's powertrain with a bigger battery pack, bigger electric motors, and a plug-in system. The RAV4 Prime is also a strong performer reaching 60 in just 5.4 seconds making it faster than most of its rivals while still giving an impressive 38 MPG.

Toyota is still behind EV giants like Tesla mostly because their successful Hybrids like the Prius have helped them hit emission standards without moving into the EV realm. Toyota has also made great strides in the fuel-cell models with their Toyota Mirai which has sold well despite its limited usability because of the unavailability of hydrogen filling stations in most areas. Toyota is currently making strong progress in the EV space with several models planned to release soon.

Last year we heard about Toyota's 1000 km battery which is being developed with Kyoto university. The new battery can pack a lot more energy into small lightweight packaging compared to the standard lithium-ion batteries. The battery uses fluoride-ion chemistry which allows it to have almost 7 times more density than the current batteries. The new battery is also predicted to last around 8 times longer, making it a lot more capable.

These batteries use a solid electrolyte to pack in a lot more energy compared to liquid, giving it the name solid-state batteries. The biggest drawback with solid-state batteries is their short lifespan which is considerably lower than regular lithium-ion batteries. Toyota is also working with Panasonic to develop a sulfur-based electrolyte that will allow more efficient ion transfer, resulting in better reliability.

Overall, solid-state batteries will be a huge leap with quicker charging, improved reliability, and greater energy density allowing the cars to go farther than ever before. Toyota is planning on showcasing a working prototype this year after it was delayed because of the pandemic.

With all this research under its belt, Toyota is finally ready to step into the EV market with an electric crossover which is planned to release in Europe first followed by the U.S. The new model will be based on the new e-TNGA modular platform which is meant for EVs and was unveiled last year. The platform will accommodate an electric motor at the front for regular front-wheel-drive models, or the rear for rear-wheel-drive models, or both locations for all-wheel-drive models like SUVs. The position of the front seats and the battery will be fixed with a variable wheelbase depending on the body type and size.

Toyota's luxury brand Lexus is also planning on launching electrified versions of its lune-up by 2025 and recently previewed the LF-Z concept which is a sneak-peek into the future EV models.

Toyota is also planning on developing a small car with Suzuki and Daihatsu. Another compact crossover will be developed with Subaru, all of which will be based on the e-TNGA platform.

Toyota is planning on releasing a total of 6 models on this architecture including a mid-size SUV, compact crossover, sedan, mid-size crossover, and a large SUV. Battery sizes ranging from 50 to 100 kWh will be used combined with two motor types with power ranging from 80 - 150 kW. We can expect the smaller models to have a range of around 200 miles while the larger models will get around 350 miles of range, bringing it closer to competition. Initially, regular lithium-ion batteries will be used for the EVs, with solid-state batteries slated to arrive soon.

Toyota aims to sell more than 5.5 million EVs by 2025, with more than 60 electrified vehicles planned in the same time frame including regular Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, fuel-cell, and fully electric models. Toyota also plans to equip at least one model with solid-state batteries by 2025.

The new EV lineup will be named BZ for Beyond Zero, with model names ranging from BZ1 through BZ5, with BZxX names reserved for all-wheel-drive models.

Toyota is planning to reveal the BZ electric SUV soon at the Shanghai Motor Show which will go toe to toe with the Volkswagen ID.4, and Kia e-Niro. The new SUV will be similar to the RAV4 in size with a slightly longer wheelbase to make space for the under-floor battery pack. This will allow customers to choose between the regular, Hybrid, and Plug-in RAV4 crossover as well as the new fully electric model depending on their usage.

Toyota also unveiled the smaller X Prologue compact SUV which is planned for a Europe launch soon.

We can expect the models to reach U.S. shores soon after the European launch, which will put it in direct competition with Tesla while being a lot more affordable.

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