How Toyota Changed Its Mind About Battery Powered Vehicles

2017-toyota-prius-primeToyota, one of the biggest carmakers in the world, has been recently badmouthing lithium battery technology and the companies using it – namely Tesla.

They even built an entire media campaign around an alternative to the alternative: hydrogen fuel cells, the distribution infrastructure and storage devices. All those electric car companies were about to fall into a trap and die, if it were for Toyota – because hydrogen was the answer.

Now, the Japanese company has changed its mentality a bit – they started investing time and effort into the development of proper lithium ion batteries – after Tesla started doing it so many years ago (2007).

koji-toyoshimaWhat strikes me most is what Koji Toyoshima, the chief engineer in the Prius project, told Reuters: “Developing lithium-ion batteries for both hybrids and plug-ins will enable us to also produce all-electric cars in the future.”

Ok. Allright. Fine. So “will enable us to produce ALL-ELECTRIC CARS” sounds great when coming from a Toyota top engineer. Prii have so far been good, reliable cars. Panasonic makes batteries for Tesla, too. They may be using the knowledge to produce reliable cells to help Toyota with their future Prius and what else they may come with in the future. Back in 2010,  Tesla Motors and Toyota announced a partnership to work on electric vehicle development.

The 2016 Plug-in Prius has Panasonic lithium ion packs onboard. Engineers from both Toyota and Panasonic worked together to make a proper battery management system that insures a lifespan of at least 10 years.

Now I (still) have a 2004 Prius which I enjoy day after day. It’s counted over 150,000 miles and it hasn’t had a single problem so far, mechanical, electrical or of other nature.

 

See? It all adds up – the smaller, “crazy ones” take the lead, others follow – just like in the old days.

I’m an advocate of clean energy, and I’ve covered news about both battery and hydrogen powered theories ever since 2007, when I started this site. But right now I do agree with Elon Musk – producing, transporting and storing hydrogen onboard cars just doesn’t make much sense, economically speaking. The technology being in its early infancy would make us wait another 20 years until hydrogen becomes a mass-produced commodity and that would only make things worse for our already fragile ecosystems.

It looks like Toyota eventually got the idea, too – one way or the other.

[pictures (c) Automobilemag/Autonews]

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