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Toshiba's New Li-Ion Battery Is Key to Toyota's EV Plans, Promises To Be Indestructible

Toyota ended 2021 with a bang, announcing dozens of electric models. What went under the radar was that the Japanese promised exceptional endurance for its Li-Ion batteries. A new Toshiba battery breakthrough might explain why Toyota was so bullish on this matter.
Toshiba's new Li-Ion battery is key to Toyota's EV plans 7 photos
Toshiba's new Li-Ion battery is key to Toyota's EV plansToshiba's new Li-Ion battery is key to Toyota's EV plansToshiba's new Li-Ion battery is key to Toyota's EV plansToshiba's new Li-Ion battery is key to Toyota's EV plansToshiba's new Li-Ion battery is key to Toyota's EV plansToshiba's new Li-Ion battery is key to Toyota's EV plans
According to a Toyota press release, the new bZ4X (an incredibly ugly nameplate, if you ask me) has a battery warranty that covers 10 years or one million kilometers (more than 620,000 miles)  - whichever comes first. Moreover, Toyota guarantees the car’s cells will retain at least 70% of the original capacity after all this ordeal, which is unprecedented in the automotive industry. To add even more heft to this claim, the Japanese detailed the cells were developed with a target of 90 percent of capacity retained after ten years or 240,000 kilometers (ca. 149.000 miles). But how is this even possible?

We already know electric vehicle batteries can last for a long time and many carmakers already offer an 8-year warranty for the Li-ion batteries. This usually comes with a lower mileage though, below 100,000 miles (162,000 km). We might also think Toyota knows a thing or two about batteries, having launched their first hybrid car 25 years ago. The truth is, Toyota has even less knowledge with Li-Ion batteries than other carmakers have right now, as they only started to use this chemistry for the latest generation Corolla.

Being a traditional carmaker, Toyota relies heavily on suppliers to offer their knowledge and know-how. As a Japanese company, it’s only natural they will favor Japanese suppliers, and right here comes Toshiba’s announcement of an improved Li-Ion battery. Its main quality? Being able to retain close to 100% of its capacity after more than 8,000 charging cycles. This means it is virtually indestructible since the current Li-Ion batteries are only able to sustain around 1,000 cycles before degrading below 80% of the original capacity.

SCiB is nothing new, being Toshiba’s marketing name for their signature Lithium titanium oxide (LTO) for more than a decade already. This chemistry is known for offering lower voltage and energy density than other Li-Ion cell types but is capable to withstand a huge number of cycles without degrading. The latest breakthrough Toshiba announced for this technology promises to extend LTO cells’ benefits while also alleviating its shortcomings.

The new 20Ah-HP SCiB is a combination type between Toshiba’s previous SCiB high-energy and SCiB high-power versions. The result is a battery with almost as high energy density (84Wh/kg and 176Wh/L) as the previous 20 Ah/23 Ah SCiB high-energy type (respectively: 89 Wh/kg and 96 Wh/kg). Toshiba reduced the internal resistance in the cell by a whopping 40%, which allowed for an increased charging power (+70%) and discharging power (+60%).

The side effect is the new battery has become more durable than previous Toshiba cells. It now maintains almost 100% of initial capacity after 8,000 of 10-90% SOC cycles. It also permits high current rates for fast charging, which drastically reduces the downtime of an electric vehicle.

The downside is, of course, the LTO chemistry is not cheap, at least not as cheap as the latest LFP batteries Tesla started to use. Still, Toyota promises the batteries they’ll use are going to be less expensive than those other carmakers are using. We assume they rely on economy of scale to drive down the price of this technology.

 
 
 
 
 

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