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Toyota (TM) Intensifies EV War by Investing in Battery Development

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Toyota Motor TM recently confirmed plans of investing more than $13.5 billion through 2030 to develop electric vehicle (EV) batteries and a battery supply system, in its quest to dominate the market in key automotive technology over the next decade.

Japan-based Toyota has been the king of hybrid vehicles since the introduction of its popular Prius compact vehicle. It has also been investing in fuel-cell vehicles like the Mirai, and sells the UX300e in Europe and China. However, the auto giant has been relatively slower in the adoption of EVs into its line-up and has no pure-electric offerings at the moment. Nonetheless, the automaker is all set to roll out its first all-electric line-up next year in an attempt to quell criticism that it has been slow to shift to electric cars.

Considered as a frontrunner in developing batteries for EVs, Toyota now intends to slash the cost of its batteries by 30% or more. It anticipates to achieve this goal by working on the raw materials used in the production of batteries and the way the battery cells are structured. The automaker also plans to optimize power consumption of these batteries by 30%, starting with its upcoming compact SUV model — Toyota bZ4X. Power consumption is an indicator of the amount of electricity used per kilometer by a battery-powered vehicle.

Amid the aggravating climate-change concerns, automakers across the globe have been revving up their EV efforts in order to roll out more environmental-friendly vehicles on the road. The development of batteries used to power EVs has become crucial in order to decarbonize the global economy.

Amid the changing scenario, Toyota has also been a pioneer in the mass production of solid-state batteries, revolutionizing the EV space. These solid-state batteries have several advantages, including being dense in energy, capacity to charge faster, and are less susceptible to catching fire. However, Toyota's efforts to mass produce solid-state EV batteries have hit a roadblock because these batteries are much more expensive to develop, and can crack upon expansion and contraction while use. Moreover, the short service life of these batteries serves as a hindrance in their successful development and application.

On an optimistic note, there have been no modifications in Toyota’s target to begin manufacturing solid-state batteries by the mid-2020s. It is still on the lookout for the best raw materials to develop these batteries. If developed successfully, these batteries have the potential to radically transform the face of the EV sector as they can even replace liquid lithium-ion batteries used in EVs. Toyota also plans to use the solid-state batteries to power its hybrid electric vehicles such as the Prius.

Though Toyota did not disclose any plans for battery plants or the geographical breakdown of its investment plan, another goal for the auto biggie is to set up a total of 70 EV battery lines by 2030 capable of producing 200 gigawatt hours of battery power. This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company targets to sell eight million partially or fully electrified vehicles by 2030, of which about two million will be battery-powered cars and fuel-cell vehicles, while the other six million will be gasoline-electric hybrids or plug-in hybrids. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Global heavyweights like BMW and Honda HMC are also working to bring the solid-state batteries to the market. In fact, recently Volkswagen VWAGY unveiled plans to spend more than it had previously announced to achieve its goals in the autonomous driving and EV space. The German automaker plans to produce batteries at six new plants by 2030, with a capacity of 240 gigawatt hours. Additionally, big names like General Motors GM and Ford have been ramping up their battery development efforts to dominate the EV landscape.

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