Toyota has been on an electrification roll of late. In 1997, it became the first company in the world to launch mass production hybrid electrified vehicles (HEVs). Recently it has emphasized its pioneering role in electrified vehicle development, accumulating an array of technologies and experience in the development, production, and sales of electrified vehicles.
The company has formed a partnership with CATL (Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Ltd.) that includes the supply of batteries for new energy vehicles (NEVs); development of new battery system technologies and improvements to the quality of current cell technology; and reuse and recycling of batteries.
To further promote the widespread use of electrified vehicles, CATL and Toyota agree that a stable supply of batteries is critical and that battery technology must be further developed and advanced. Through this broad-ranging collaboration, CATL will combine its battery development and supply capabilities with Toyota's electrified vehicle and battery development technologies. With this combination, the two companies will engage in the development of electrified vehicles that are attractive to customers and in further promoting their widespread adoption.
In another agreement, Toyota will partner with BYD to jointly develop battery electric vehicles. The two will jointly develop sedans and low-floor SUVs as well as the onboard batteries for these vehicles and others with the aim to launch them in the Chinese market under the Toyota brand in the first half of the 2020s.
BYD was founded in 1995 as a battery business and has grown into a “total energy solution” company, manufacturing not only electrified vehicles but also other products such as large-size energy storage cells. Core parts for electrified vehicles such as batteries, motors, and power electronics are among the products that BYD develops in-house. In 2008, BYD claims that it became the first company in the world to sell mass production of plug-in hybrid electrified vehicles (PHEVs), and it claims its sales of BEVs and PHEVs have ranked first in the world for four consecutive years.
To curb global warming, both BYD and Toyota seek to reduce CO2 emissions by promoting the widespread use of BEVs.
Toyota also announced recently that it will work with NEDO and Sharp to begin public road trials of electrified vehicles equipped with high-efficiency solar batteries. The trials, slated to begin in late July, aim to assess the effectiveness of improvements in cruising range and fuel efficiency of electrified vehicles equipped with the batteries.
To aid in the trial, Sharp modularized its high-efficiency solar battery cells (conversion efficiency of 34% plus), previously developed for a NEDO-led project, to create an onboard solar battery panel. Toyota installed this panel on the roof, hood, rear hatch door, and other parts of its Prius PHV and produced a demo car for public road trials. By enhancing the solar battery panel's efficiency and expanding its onboard area, Toyota was able to achieve a rated power generation output of around 860 W, which is about 4.8 times higher, compared with the commercial model Prius PHV (equipped with a solar charging system). In addition to substantially boosting its power generation output, the demo car employs a system that charges the driving battery while the vehicle is parked and also while it is being driven, a development that is expected to lead to considerable improvements in electric-powered cruising range and fuel efficiency.
Toyota plans to conduct the trials under various driving conditions in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, Tokyo, and other areas. Various data, including the power generation output of the solar battery panel and the amount the drive battery is charged, will be obtained and verified, and then used in the development of an onboard solar recharging system. Toyota plans to share a selection of trial data results with NEDO and Sharp. The photovoltaic-powered Vehicle Strategy Committee, sponsored by NEDO and other entities, will evaluate the benefits based on improvements in CO2 emissions reductions and convenience, such as the number of times a vehicle requires recharging. The goal is to contribute to the creation of a new solar battery panel market, including the transport sector, and find solutions for energy and environmental issues.