EVs have quickly outpaced earlier tech predicitions
Toyota’s new 620-mile battery gives the same range as a comparable ICE car, thanks to huge tech advances
A quick trawl through social media reveals that not everyone is enamoured by how the alternatives to ICE-powered cars are shaping up.
That could have much to do with the fact that the 2030 ICE ban will force people out of new cars for which no comparable alternative exists – but that doesn’t mean it never will.
Toyota’s next-generation battery tech, due in three years, is an example. It will give a range of up to 620 miles, reduce cost by 20% and have a charging time of 20 minutes “or less”.
Since ‘alternative propulsion’ began to be taken seriously a couple of decades ago, no engineering consultant, independent research body or self-respecting car maker’s R&D department was without a technology roadmap representing how various types of ever more efficient engine tech would evolve.
As far as the greening of the car was concerned, the message was always: ‘There is no single solution.’
Back then, BEVs were seen as likely being confined to town use, and nobody predicted they would become this capable this quickly.
As a result, the BEV has overtaken earlier predictions to the point that drivers expect nothing less than a like-for-like replacement for an ICE car without any compromises such as refuelling time, range restriction or a sparse charging network.
But according to those roadmaps, technology is probably exceeding expectations, and there’s a chance that in the next 15 years, today’s EVs will look positively ancient.
That work being done on battery technology by past-master Toyota is an example of how quickly development is progressing. Despite the Prius being a loss-leader for years after its 1997 launch, Toyota stuck to its guns, and in the process it must have compiled an impressive knowledge base on battery development.
On that basis alone, its claims about what comes next on the technology roadmap should be worth taking seriously.
Earlier this year, the Japanese manufacturer announced a new next-generation lithium battery that will arrive by 2026 to power next-generation BEVs. These vehicles will be ground-up developments based on a modular structure with the bodies divided into three sections: front, centre and rear.
The centre section will house the battery, so any changes in rapidly progressing battery technology will only affect that section.
The 620-mile battery will be the ‘performance’ version; there will also be a ‘popularisation’ version that gives a 20% increase in cruising range compared with existing batteries, charging in less than 30 minutes, combined with, crucially, a reduction in cost of 40% compared with existing tech.
The cost reduction is due to the use of a ‘bipolar’ structure that essentially means combining two electrodes in one, reducing the number of parts by 20%.
The solid-state battery, which Toyota now hopes to commercialise in 2027 or 2028, promises even better range and a charging time of less than 10 minutes.