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Toyota Striving For EV Innovations

FILE: Japan's Toyota Motor displays the new electric trucks, a one-ton capacity and equipped with compartments to keep cool and frozen, in Tokyo on March 1, 2013. The EV truck, including its refrigerator and freezer, is powered by Li-ion batteries, which Toyota seeks to replace.

TOKYO — Toyota will introduce high-performance, solid-state batteries and other technologies to improve the driving range and cut costs of future electric vehicles (EVs), the automaker said on June 13, a strategic pivot that sent its shares higher.

Toyota also trumpeted a "technological breakthrough" that addresses durability problems in "solid-state batteries" and said it is developing means to mass produce those batteries, targeting commercialization over 2027-2028.

Solid-state batteries can hold more energy than current liquid electrolyte batteries. Automakers and analysts expect them to speed transition to EVs by addressing a major consumer concern: range.

An EV powered by a solid-state battery would have a range of 1,200 km and charging time of just 10 minutes, Toyota said. By comparison, the Tesla Supercharger network - the largest of its kind - offers the equivalent of 321 km of charge in 15 minutes.

Toyota did not detail expected costs or required investment for the plans.

Engineers at the automaker have been considering a reboot of its EV strategy since last year to better compete.

Still, solid-state batteries are expensive and likely to remain so for years. Toyota will hedge with better-performing lithium iron phosphate batteries, a cheaper alternative to lithium-ion batteries that have spurred EV adoption in China, the world's largest vehicle market.

At the high end of the market, Toyota said it would produce an EV with a more efficient lithium-ion battery offering a range of 1,000 km. By comparison, the long-range version of the lithium-ion-powered Tesla Model Y, the world's best-selling EV, can drive for about 530 km based on U.S. standards.

Toyota's BEV Factory, established in May, aims to produce about 1.7 million vehicles by 2030, Kato said - about half of the 3.5 million EVs Toyota aims to sell annually by that year.

"What we want to achieve is to change the future with BEVs," Takero Kato, president of new Toyota EV unit BEV Factory, said in a video posted on the automaker's YouTube channel on June 13.

In April, the automaker sold 8,584 EVs worldwide, including under its Lexus brand, accounting for more than 1% of its global sales in a single month for the first time.

Toyota sold almost 10.5 million vehicles in 2022, and has a market value of about $254 billion. By contrast, Tesla sold one-eighth as many vehicles yet is valued at around $791 billion, a premium reflecting investor belief in Tesla's growth potential.