Toyota opens $14 billion battery war chest

But Toyota sees more demand on the way. It expects its global deliveries of electrified vehicles to quadruple to 8 million by 2030, from 1.96 million in 2020. About 2 million of the target figure will be zero-emission vehicles — hydrogen fuel cells and battery-electrics — though full-electric vehicles should account for the lion’s share.

A difference in battery types sheds light on Toyota’s math for future supply.

Hybrid-vehicle batteries are designed for high-power discharge but don’t have big capacities. Toyota’s Prius, for example, has a 0.74-kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery, while its fuel cell Mirai has a 1.24-kWh battery. By contrast, Toyota executives have said the coming line of full-electric vehicles will have batteries in the range of 50 to 100 kWh. Those will require more factory firepower.

Toyota’s plans give it some flexibility in an uncertain EV market.

If, for example, Toyota produces 6 million hybrids in 2030 with Prius-sized batteries, that product mix would require about 4.4 GWh of annual battery supply. Toyota would still have more than 190 GWh of factory capacity left to dedicate to EV and fuel cell batteries.

That would allow enough wiggle room to supply nearly 2 million EVs, even if each had a large-sized 100-kWh battery.

In typically conservative Toyota fashion, the company plans to build the new capacity incrementally, over a period of years, in 10-line installments. That gives Toyota better flexibility to adjust to changing demand, said Chief Production Officer Masamichi Okada in outlining the strategy.

“Based on lessons learned from our experience during the financial crisis, we will do this through building small units,” Okada said. “At that time, we realized being aggressive and making large investments during our growth stage can be a weakness when situations change. We want to make sure we control risk even when we are expanding.”

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