Lithium-ion batteries are used by almost every automaker
Toyota has used these batteries since 1997
The company developed a way to increase the power density of this chemistry
Toyota is known to be a very conservative car company that doesn’t like to change things when it doesn’t have to.
This is why the company announced it will perceiver using nickel-metal hydride batteries in its hybrid vehicles, many years after other automakers have decided to embrace lithium-ion technology.
Toyota has been using this type of batteries since 1997, the year the first generation of the Prius, the first hybrid production car, was introduced in Japan.
Nickel-metal hydride batteries are typically less power-dense than lithium-ion batteries, meaning they have to be bigger to produce the same power.
In order to improve on this, Toyota developed a way to extract more energy from this well-known technology.
This innovation is called bipolar nickel-metal hydride battery. The design of the structure of the battery makes it more powerful, but also smaller, which is important since size and weight are two major drawbacks of battery packs.
Each cell in this new battery delivers 1.5 times the power of the previous design and the structure allows for 1.4 times as many cells in the same physical space.
This is useful in two ways, since the company can fit a smaller battery but retain the same power, or they can fit the same size of battery and benefit from double the previous output.
This allows Toyota to keep the cost of its hybrid vehicles down while making them up to date with the competition in terms of efficiency and electric range.
The company plans to sell 8 million electrified vehicles in 2030, of which 6 million would be hybrids, up 4 million from their current sales figures.
The production of the new bipolar nickel-metal hydride batteries will be ramped up in the coming decade and they will eventually replace the standard type that is currently used.