Toyota has hit back at those criticising the pace at which it’s bringing battery electric vehicles (BEVs) to market by showcasing its joint venture battery plant and emphasising the quality of its own batteries above the rest.
Speaking to Australian media at the Prime Planet Energy and Solutions plant in Himeji, Japan, Toyota Australia vice president of sales and marketing Sean Hanley said that Toyota’s batteries are of higher “quality, performance, safety and reliability” than many other BEV makers today.
“No two batteries are alike. The batteries produced here are a cut above those offered by many others in the market,” said Mr Hanley.
He pointed out that Toyota was the biggest driving force for hybrid vehicles globally and has produced more than 20 million hybrid vehicles in that time.
While it may not be a leading BEV manufacturer today in terms of sheer volume, the company believes that its superior products will allow the brand to overcome inertia and become a global player in this space in the near future.
With plans to produce 3.5 million BEVs a year by 2030, the joint venture with Panasonic to produce its own lithium-ion batteries makes Toyota one of only three manufacturers that has control over its own battery production.
Toyota believes that by controlling it own destiny and quality when it comes to battery production, it will create a better product overall.
Apart from producing batteries explicitly built for Toyota vehicles, the company claims the testing procedure for lithium-ion packs coming from the likes of the Himeji battery plant is more than twice as long as some other manufacturers, with Toyota testing currently taking at least 20 days for each battery.
“A telling example is that each of the batteries built here is tested for an extensive period – not just days, but weeks. That means constant charging, discharging, and recharging before they are ever fitted to a customer’s car,” said Mr Hanley.
According to Mr Hanley, this will benefit cars like the Toyota bZ4X which is heading to Australia early in 2024.
“It’s a time-consuming but vital process. And it means that – for the bZ4X and other Toyota BEVs heading to Australia powered by this plant’s output – our batteries will be superior to many alternatives in terms of performance and reliability,” he said.
Part of the introduction of the bZ4X will also see Toyota offer a full-service lease, which the brand says emphasises its belief in the vehicle’s longevity.
“We’ve been able to take the learnings from our experience [in hybrids] and apply them to the bZ4X where, for example, our options for Australian customers will include a full-service lease… taking the fear of BEV risk away from the consumer,” he said.
While the bZ4X has a quoted range of more than 600km, Toyota is already working on an updated battery for 2026 that will see its BEVs of similar size capable of at least 1000km on a single charge.
The aim will also be to reduce the battery cost by 20 per cent compared to the bZ4X and have the ability for a rapid recharge in just 20 minutes.