Toyota and Samsung accelerate towards better EV batteries • The Register

Samsung’s SDI battery manufacturing unit has announced that it will begin mass production of solid-state batteries in 2027, and that the components it powers will have an energy density of 900 watt-hours per liter (Wh/L), a figure that lithium-ion batteries have difficulty. match.

Solid state batteries are also more resilient than lithium-ion batteries, which become less efficient over time and can catch fire even after minor damage.

Samsung also touted batteries with a 20-year lifespan and the ability to charge to 80 percent capacity in nine minutes.

Again, these specs make lithium-ion batteries look drained. If Samsung can produce its solid-state power packs in sufficient quantities, it could jolt the electric vehicle market by increasing range.

Unfortunately, Samsung hasn’t provided detailed specifications of what it will deliver in 2027, saying only that production will vary based on demand. Automakers are necessarily cautious about adopting new technologies, so it is unlikely that these batteries will appear in model vehicles in 2027.

However, Toyota has more immediate plans for EV batteries. The Japanese giant announced Tuesday that it is acquiring its 28-year electric battery joint venture with Panasonic.

For an undisclosed amount, Primearth EV Energy (PEVE) will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota from the end of March, in an effort to “strengthen its capabilities in mass production of automotive batteries”, the Japanese automaker said.

PEVE Mass produces prismatic nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery packs for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), including the Toyota Prius. There are currently plans for the company to also tackle battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Toyota said the product expansion will allow the company to “flexibly respond to growing battery demand, while also helping to further enhance the competitiveness of mass production.”

PEVE won’t be the only Toyota-backed company making BEV and PHEV batteries, as fellow Panasonic joint venture Prime Planet Energy & Solutions (PPES) is already tackling these markets.

Toyota currently sources its BEV batteries from PPES and the Chinese CATL. Toyota is still spending money on the first. It pledged $2.5 billion to expand a PPES battery factory in North Carolina by 2022

Panasonic has also plowed PPES with money. Last summer it liquidated its Liquid Crystal Display business and put the money into a PPES battery factory.

The four-year-old PPES is 49 percent owned by Panasonic HD and 51 percent by Toyota, while PEVE is 80.5 percent owned by Toyota and 19.5 percent owned by Panasonic.

When PEVE started in 1996, it was a 60-40 joint venture with Panasonic owning the majority stake. Two buyouts over the years gave Toyota a larger share and subsequently further reduced Panasonic’s power.

Toyota’s positioning to have more control over battery production comes as the company targets a sales target of 1.5 million electric cars by 2026.

Despite the long-term investments in PEVE and the shorter-term investments in PPES, Toyota is seen as slow to adopt electric vehicles. In 2023, the company even changed CEOs to gain access to more EV smarts like . Akio Toyoda was replaced by former Lexus head Koji Sato.

Toyoda remains on Toyota’s board and still vows that the electric car segment will only account for a maximum of 30 percent of the market.

Whether that’s true or not, Samsung is betting big on batteries – both with the announcement reported above and by buying part of a mine that produces materials for making batteries. Ford, General Motors and other automakers have taken similar steps.

That already makes running a battery factory strange. ®

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