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Toyota details BEV and FCEV future

Executives reveal plans to become a mobility company, future in batteries and cells

14 Jun 2023

STUNG by perceptions it is behind the eight ball with new energy vehicles, Toyota has lined up three of its top executives to set the record straight at a one-day technical session in Japan.


The giant automotive manufacturer took the opportunity at the session to announce a variety of new technologies that will support its transformation into a mobility company.


Making its road ahead clear, the session’s theme was “Toyota unveils new technology that will change the future of cars”.


As well as revealing it is in the process of establishing a hydrogen business, a focus was on Toyota’s future EV plans that include new batteries capable of delivering more than 1450km range for next generation Toyota BEVs that will be made in overhauled and efficiency-optimised production facilities.


Three speakers provided details of developments in their specific fields. They were Hiroki Nakajima, executive vice president and chief technology officer, Takero Kato, who has been appointed president of the newly established BEV factory, and Mitsumasa Yamagata, who is scheduled to be appointed president of the Hydrogen factory to be launched in July.


Mr Nakajima explained Toyota's technology strategy and the direction of future car manufacturing. In addition, he spoke on specific and diverse technologies, including concepts under development, which will help achieve the vision and policies that have been communicated so far.


Messrs Kato and Yamagata elaborated on their respective strategies for the battery EV and hydrogen businesses.


In his address, Mr Nakajima, said: “An explanation of the ‘Toyota Mobility Concept’ was given at a policy briefing in April. The three approaches that hold the key to its realisation are electrification, intelligence, and diversification”.


“In the area of electrification, we will continue to pursue a “multi-pathway approach”, including the introduction of optimal powertrains for each region,” he said.


“In the area of intelligence, in addition to vehicles and services, we will also promote initiatives to expand our connection with society, such as Woven City (being built on a manufacturing site as a test for future mobility and ‘to explore well-being for all’).


“We will also continue to diversify our business by expanding our scope from ‘cars’ to ‘society’ to include freedom of mobility and diverse energy options.”


Mr Nakajima said Toyota will promote these three themes technologically and by shifting resources to Advanced Development fields and actively investing in future-oriented areas that it has done since 2016 when the company system was inaugurated.


As of March 2023, Toyota has shifted more than half of its R&D staff and approximately half of all R&D expenses to Advanced Development fields while increasing the total investment amount. The company says it will further accelerate this trend in the future.


“We would like to promote car manufacturing based on three key areas,” continued Mr Nakajima.


“The first is to pursue safety and security without compromise. We will further refine Toyota Safety Sense and deliver safe and reliable technologies to our customers.


“The second is that the future will be built by everyone. We will create the future by connecting with our colleagues around the world through initiatives such as CJPT's (Commercial Japan Partnering Technologies) efforts to decarbonise the commercial sector, our partnership with the CP Group in Thailand, and our collaboration in motorsports.


“Third, we will accelerate localisation. As the needs of our customers in each region will differ further in the future, we will accelerate ‘development near our customers’ at our research and development bases around the world.”


Takero Kato, the BEV factory president said: “What we hope to achieve with the BEV factory, is to change the future with BEVs through the transformation of cars, manufacturing, and the way we work”.


He said through technologies such as the integration of next-generation batteries and sonic technology, Toyota will achieve a BEV cruising range of 1000km. This will be aided by enhanced aerodynamic performance and styling supported by AI.


“The Arene OS and full OTA will infinitely expand the possibilities for enjoying cars”, said Mr Kato.


“Like the manual EV, we will deliver exciting surprises and fun to our customers with technologies achievable only by a carmaker.


“On the manufacturing side, the car body will be constructed from three main components in a new modular structure.


“Adopting giga casting will allow significant component integration, which contributes to the reduction of vehicle development costs and factory investment. In addition, self-propelling production technology will reduce the processes and plant investment by half.”


The BEV factory will be run using one leader and will “revolutionise the way work is done, with everyone on the same site and with the same awareness of the issues, to achieve quick decision-making and initial response”.


“We will roll out next-generation BEVs globally and as a full line up to be launched in 2026. By 2030, 1.7 million units out of 3.5 million overall will be provided by BEV factory,” added Mr Kato.


“The next-generation battery EVs will adopt new batteries, through which we are determined to become a world leader in battery EV energy consumption. With the resources we earn, we will improve our product appeal to exceed customer expectations and secure earnings.”


Regarding hydrogen, Mr Yamagata said hydrogen markets in Europe, China, and North America will be by far the largest in 2030, and the fuel cell market is expected to expand rapidly toward that point, reaching the level of 5 trillion yen (roughly $A52.7 billion) per year.


“We are promoting external sales of fuel cells using the Mirai's hydrogen units and have received offers for external sales of 100,000 units by 2030. Most of them are commercial vehicles,” he said.


The new hydrogen factory is being established to respond to the rapid changes in the market and will enable Toyota to make immediate decisions under one leader, from sales to development and production, all at once.


The Hydrogen Factory will promote business on three levels: localising R&D and production in countries within the major markets that will see Toyota accelerate its efforts by to establish local bases, mainly in Europe and China; strengthening alliances with leading partners in order to deliver affordable and sufficient fuel cells to customers by consolidating sufficient quantities through alliances; and improving competitiveness and technology by developing the ‘innovative evolution of competitive next-generation FC technologies’, such as next-generation cell technologies and FC systems.


Toyota will work toward full-scale commercialisation as it moves forward with these FC initiatives. The next-generation system will achieve a 37 per cent cost reduction through technological progress, volume efficiency, and localisation.


“In collaboration with partners, if we receive an offer for 200,000 units in 2030, we will be able to reduce the cost by 50 per cent and generate a solid profit while meeting the expectations of our many customers and governments,” said Mr Yamagata.


“We will work together in development, production, and sales to achieve this goal.


“In addition, the price of hydrogen is still very high. In order to promote the widespread use of hydrogen, Toyota will continue to work with its partners to contribute producing, transporting, and using hydrogen.


“We will take relationships we have built with strong partners as opportunities to accelerate our efforts to commercialise hydrogen by establishing customer-oriented bases in major markets and by offering affordable products in sufficient quantities”, he concluded.


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