Japanese auto giant Toyota has announced plans for investing around $35 million in materials science research projects in a bid to accelerate the design and discovery of advanced materials for batteries and fuel cells.
Through its Toyota Research Institute (TRI), the manufacturer is proposing to work with research entities, universities and other companies to develop advanced materials to help make batteries and fuel cells for powering future zero-emissions and carbon-neutral vehicles more efficient.
Nobody doubts the days of fossil fuels are numbered for both commercial and passenger vehicles, but electric and hydrogen fuel cell models are still a minority appeal due to their restricted range and practicality.
Identifying new, more efficient materials for advancing battery and fuel cell technology is therefore, crucial in making these vehicles a truly viable alternative to petrol and diesel-powered models.
This new research will combine advanced computational materials modelling, experimental data from new sources, machine learning and artificial intelligence to try to reduce the lengthy periods typically associated with this type of research and development.
Somewhat controversially, Toyota announced last year it didn’t see all-electric vehicles (EVs) as a viable solution for sustainable mobility in the short-term.
But the new projects do show Toyota is still very serious about all-electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles going forward.
Toyota and others have a long way to go to catch up with Tesla, though, who only quite recently unveiled what’s thought to be the longest-range consumer electric vehicle in the world, the Tesla Model S 100D.
The 100D boasts an EPA-rated range of some 335 miles on a full charge, while mass-market rivals are currently working towards more modest 200-mile ranges at best. Of course, the challenge for Toyota isn’t achieving such impressive range from an EV; it’s offering it to consumers for considerably less than the $92,500 base price of the Tesla.