At its Kenshiki event for media this week, Toyota Motor Europe (TME), based in Brussels, Belgium, shared its latest European business strategy, revealing that it plans to make all of its vehicles for the Western European market carbon-free by 2035. Kenshiki means insight in Japanese, and this year’s event focused on the company’s commitment to carbon neutrality, the acceleration of its electrification plan and its active role in building a hydrogen economy.
During the main plenary briefing, Toyota executives explained the company’s strategy to reach carbon neutrality as quickly as possible, whilst minimising carbon emissions generated during “the journey to neutrality.” The goal of minimising carbon emissions will reportedly be achieved by accelerating electrification and offering a diverse range of CO2-efficient powertrain solutions to all its customers.
In the coming years, Toyota stated that it will introduce an increasing number of practical and affordable zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs), with the bZ4X the latest model to have been launched. By 2030, the ZEV sales mix is anticipated to be a minimum of 50% in Western Europe, with the capacity and capability to increase should customer demand become even higher.
Matt Harrison, president & CEO of Toyota Motor Europe, commented, “Moving beyond 2030, we expect to see further ZEV demand acceleration and Toyota will be ready to achieve 100% CO2 reduction in all new vehicles by 2035 in Western Europe, assuming that sufficient electric charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructures are in place by then, together with the renewable energy capacity increases that will be required.”
Gill Pratt, TMC’s Chief Scientist and CEO of TRI, added that the path to carbon neutrality is most efficiently based on a diversity of powertrain solutions, due to the wide diversity of markets around the world, stemming from three key factors: the diverse nature of energy sources in different regions, the different transportation needs of people and, thirdly, the imperative to maximise the Carbon Return on Investment to ensure that use of scarce battery raw materials is optimised.
“Whilst Toyota is committed to making millions of Battery Electric Vehicles available to customers,” Pratt stated, “the way to reduce the most net carbon emissions globally is to use every item in our toolbox, including Hybrid Electric, Plug-in Hybrid Electric, Battery Electric and Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, with the proportions of each optimised to make best use of the infrastructure constraints and customer circumstances of every region, and the limited supply and improving performance of batteries.”
More details of Toyota’s battery strategy were shared by Gerald Killmann, vice president of TME R&D, following the recent global announcement of its €11.5 billion battery investment strategy. Killmann stated that commercial production has started on the world’s first bi-polar NiMh battery which, as well as using less precious minerals, is lower in cost with double the output density of a regular NiMh battery.
By applying similar techniques to Li-Ion batteries, combined with further efficiencies in vehicle energy consumption, Toyota expects to see a 50% reduction in battery cost per vehicle, without deteriorating range, in the second half of the 2020s; thereby making battery electric vehicles more affordable and accessible.
On the anticipated introduction of solid-state batteries, Killmann confirmed that, following prototype testing last year, they will likely be first introduced in hybrid electric vehicles before wider deployment including battery electric vehicles with the aims of delivering higher output, longer range and shorter charging times.
TME reported that it expects to deliver 1.07 million vehicles in 2021, for an estimated 6.3% market share – a new record and an increase of 80,000 units compared to 2020. In 2022, TME is planning to sell around 1.3 million vehicles for a 6.5% market share – another new record.