Toyota, the world’s largest automaker, has recently unveiled its new technology strategy and plans for the future of cars. The Japanese giant aims to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 and to do so, it is pursuing a multi-pathway approach that includes battery electric vehicles (BEVs), hydrogen fuel cell vehicles (FCEVs), and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
Battery Electric Vehicles: 10 New Models by 2026
Toyota has been a pioneer in hybrid technology, with more than 20 years of experience since releasing the first Prius. However, the company has been lagging in the fully electric segment, with only one BEV model currently available, the Toyota C-HR EV, which is sold exclusively in China.
That is about to change, as Toyota announced that it will launch 10 new BEV models by 2026, to significantly expand its zero-emission range. The first of these models will be the Toyota bZ4X, a compact SUV that will debut in 2023. The Toyota bZ4X is based on the e-TNGA platform, a dedicated architecture for BEVs that allows for various body types, sizes, and battery capacities.
The bZ4X will feature a solar recharging system that can increase the driving range by up to 9.3 miles (15 km) per day, as well as a steer-by-wire system that eliminates the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the front wheels, resulting in a smoother and more precise steering feel.
Toyota claims that its new generation of BEVs will be “entirely different from those today”, offering a driving range of up to 373 miles (600 km) on a single charge, thanks to its innovative battery technology. The company is developing solid-state batteries, which have higher energy density, faster charging, and lower fire risk than conventional lithium-ion batteries. Toyota expects to start mass production of solid-state batteries by the mid-2020s.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles: A Carbon Neutral Fuel
Toyota is also a leader in hydrogen fuel cell technology, launching the first mass-produced FCEV, the Mirai, in 2014. The Mirai, which means “future” in Japanese, uses hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, with water as the only emission. The second-generation Mirai, which debuted in 2020, has a sleeker design, a larger fuel tank, and a longer range of 402 miles (647 km).
Toyota believes hydrogen is a key element for achieving carbon neutrality, as it can be produced from various renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass. The company is pursuing a hydrogen business strategy that covers the entire value chain, from production and supply to utilization and recycling.
One of the initiatives that Toyota promotes is the Carbon Neutral Fuel Project, which aims to produce hydrogen from renewable energy and capture the carbon dioxide emitted during the process. The captured CO2 can then create synthetic fuels, such as methanol and gasoline, which can power conventional internal combustion engines without increasing the net CO2 emissions.
Toyota is also developing hydrogen-powered commercial vehicles, such as buses, trucks, forklifts, and stationary fuel cells, that can provide electricity and heat for homes and businesses. The company plans to launch a new FCEV factory in July 2023, responsible for the mass production and global expansion of hydrogen products.