Home » Toyota’s Working On A 900-Mile EV Battery And How Do You Like Them Apples

Toyota’s Working On A 900-Mile EV Battery And How Do You Like Them Apples

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A fine Tuesday morning to you all, fellow patriots of The Autopian. I have returned from a weekend at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and have mostly conquered my jet lag, now that I can get a moment’s peace without the Garage 56 Camaro’s V8 engine howling in my ears all night—even though I obviously loved every second of that. What a fun weekend! But back to the blog mine for now.

In today’s news roundup, we have the latest on General Motors’ big truck plans and big truck money plans; Toyota’s electric vehicle onslaught amid a contentious board meeting for its recently departed CEO; and the potential climate-mitigating promise of robo-taxis, if you’re willing to suspend a lot of your disbelief. Start your engines (or batteries) and let’s hit it.

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Toyota Unveils Future Battery EV Plans And They Did Not Come To Play

Toyota Ev Concepts 1 1560182440
Toyota’s possible future EV lineup. Photo: Toyota

Toyota’s longtime approach to decarbonization has been variety—different powertrains for different markets, including ones where electricity has been hard to come by. (I’ve come around to agreeing with that more and more, actually.) But it’s also been accused of being a laggard on battery EVs amid its focus on hydrogen vehicles, which remains a promising technology but has yet to translate into consumer cars or fueling infrastructure. And the lukewarm bZ4x hasn’t helped things; it’s more afterthought than tip-of-the-spear like most EVs tend to be these days.

But lately Toyota says it’s getting serious about battery EVs, planning a bunch of new models by 2026, an EV and battery plant in America and a new ground-up EV platform. We knew that. And now we hear it’s about to go hard on this stuff. It’s not just to ward off Tesla but BYD also, which I think keeps both Elon Musk and Toyota execs awake at night.

Automotive News‘ intrepid Japan reporter Hans Griemel today has a deep-dive on Toyota’s battery plans and it’s the stuff fans of the brand have been waiting for. And it includes “completely overhauling its vaunted production system for even more efficient manufacturing.”

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Solid-state batteries for electric vehicle with ranges of 900 miles or more. Software operating systems that update automatically. Futuristic factories where cars drive themselves through final assembly. Ultra-slick aerodynamics developed through rocket science.

Those are just a few of the new technologies that Toyota is packing into its toolbox for EVs of tomorrow.

Under pressure to show it has a winning game plan for the disruptive new age of electric vehicles, Toyota Motor Corp. has spilled fresh details about its plans to leapfrog ahead in just a few years.

Among other details, Griemel reports the next first-gen EV arrives in 2026 as a Lexus; that should lead to 1.7 million cars on that platform by 2030; lithium-ion batteries get boosted to 600 miles of range by 2026, followed by cheaper lithium iron phosphate batteries and eventually hopefully solid-state batteries; shorter lead times for planning and production; and “the of ‘self-propelled production’ in which cars self-drive through factories without fixed lines.”

[Editor’s Note: Obviously, to say a “battery” can offer a certain range is a little silly, given that there are a number of factors beyond a battery’s capacity that play into range — overall drivetrain efficiency is one, but the most important is Vehicle Demand Energy — i.e. the energy needed to move a car down the road. -DT]

Yeah. Like I said, hard. Every automaker and tech company in the power space will be chasing solid-state batteries, a kind of holy grail for EVs; the first one to get there at scale and cost could own the future.

I think there’s no reason to believe Toyota can’t be an EV and battery powerhouse if it tries, while pursuing the diversification strategy for global markets. It’s one of the few automakers that can do this. But I leave you with the most fascinating tidbit from that story, to me:

Takahiro Ishijima, president of Toyota’s vehicle development center, said the company wants to cut development lead time to around 20 months by around 2026, from an average of 30 months now. Today, Toyota lacks the flexibility to quickly change direction in the middle of that development cycle in order to adapt new technologies when they emerge, he said.

“This is what we learned from the Chinese,” Ishijima said.

That says a lot, compared to the days when it was Toyota teaching the rest of the world how to make cars. But it’s not going to cede dominance to China without a fight.

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Toyota Faces Shareholders Over ESG Concerns

20211214 Bev 48 S 1674747871
Photo: Toyota

The timing of this big EV technology announcement does not feel random.

That’s because on Wednesday in Japan, Toyota does have a fight ahead with some of its shareholders over what would be normally de rigueur matters like the appointment of new CEO Koji Sato and the approval of Akio Toyoda’s ascension as board chairman.

This time, however, investors are upset about the perception that Toyota’s dragged its heels on EVs—and more specifically has actively lobbied against them in America. Some shareholders may vote no on Akio, and they want more disclosures around environmental lobbying. Here’s Automotive News again:

The normally staid and tightly scripted event, traditionally held at Toyota’s global headquarters in Toyota City, was thrown a curve ball this year by a proxy adviser campaign that questioned the board’s independence and the company’s environmental policies.

But also on the agenda is a shareholder proposal requiring Toyota to review its climate-related lobbying activities to determine whether they are truly in line with global carbon-neutral goals.

The proposal aims to strengthen disclosure of Toyota’s environmental strategy and comes amid criticism from some investors and activists that Toyota is dragging its feet on electric vehicles.

This bit’s interesting too, from shareholder proxy firm ISS:

ISS is advising that investors vote in support of Toyoda as chairman and also in support of the proposal on environmental disclosure. It argues that more disclosure and transparency would benefit investors. ISS also raised concerns about Toyota’s continued support of gasoline-electric hybrids as many of its automotive rivals move more quickly into full EVs.

“There is a risk that when Toyota finally decides the time is right to make a big push into EVs, it will have lost too much ground compared to American, European, and Korean rivals, including new upstarts,” ISS said. “Shareholder support for this proposal is warranted.”

I do agree with that last concern, even if I think Toyota can catch up.

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So what’s the headline here, beyond some boring corporate drama? It’s that more and more, investors are flexing their muscles over environmental issues (or the perception of them) and they want to make big bets on the future, which right now is seen as battery EVs. Hence part of why Tesla’s valued so highly.

It’s highly unlikely Toyoda and Sato won’t be approved for their new roles, and I do wonder what those ESG investors say about the carbon reductions Toyota did achieve by going so big on hybrids. But you have to admit the anti-EV lobbying thing is a very bad look for the company, to say the least.

GM: We Never Said When We’d Stop Making Gas Trucks And SUVs

The First Ever 2022 Chevrolet Silverado Zr2
Photo: GM

GM is one of several automakers that have committed to an all-electric (or perhaps more specifically, zero-emission) future by 2035. It’s just never really said how it plans to get there, but it’s no secret at all that any EV revolution would be financed by the sales of its massively popular V8-powered large trucks and SUVs. Ironic, to be sure.

So it may not surprise you that if GM achieves this target—and no offense to the company but that remains a big if because a lot could happen in 12 years—ultra-profitable vehicles like the Silverado, Escalade, Suburban and Denali could be the last holdouts. And GM has announced huge investments into the plants that build those cars and their engines. Reuters today has some good analysis on the matter:

General Motors (GM.N) has signaled in a series of recent announcements on plant retoolings that it plans to keep its largest and most profitable combustion trucks and SUVs in production longer than expected – another 10 to 12 years, according to analysts and suppliers.

[…] The longer timeline for churning out combustion trucks and SUVs, and the potential to harvest $50 billion or more in profit over that period, is the real news behind GM’s announcements this past week that it will spend nearly $3 billion to retool and upgrade several North American plants. Details on the timing and potential profit have not previously been disclosed.

The U.S. automaker over the past week announced investments in five plants in the United States and Canada, without providing details on products or timing, other than to say the plants will continue to build full-size internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

No surprise here, right? The car business is one of margins and dressing up a heavy, body-on-frame truck platform to be a well-equipped luxury car is how GM prints money. Now, automakers typically don’t get into details about that, but here’s one analyst who spoke to Reuters:

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The Arlington plant, which is now scheduled to build GM’s full-size combustion SUVs like the Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon through 2034, is “the most profitable auto plant in the world,” according to Ward.

“Arlington produced 345,000 units in 2022, and by our estimate generated about $25 billion in revenue and $4 billion in EBIT – or about 30% of total company EBIT,” [Benchmark auto analyst Michael] Ward told Reuters.

[…] GM does not disclose its wholesale prices to dealers or its gross margins. A 2024 GMC Sierra 3500 HD Denali Ultimate retails for up to $107,000 and more, while a 2023 Cadillac Escalade ESV V-Series can fetch $160,000 or more, according to GM dealers’ internet ads.

Wow. For a variety of reasons—including lacking the battery and materials plants it’s building right now—it’d be impossible for GM to flip the switch and make those trucks into EVs overnight.

And it wouldn’t be profitable to do so, either. Last week GM CEO Mary Barra went on NPR’s Marketplace and described how nigh-impossible it is to make a profit on EVs priced below $40,000—that’s part of why the Bolt is being phased out for the new, lower-cost Ultium platform. Cost is where Tesla has the EV lead right now.

It’s a good story, worth a read in full. But I am fully expecting the production of gas trucks from GM for a very long time, possibly even beyond 2035. Besides the fact that the EV funding has to come from somewhere, the point is to deliver shareholder value—not save the planet.

Robotaxis: Good For The Planet?

Waymo Autonomous Jaguar

I’ll tell you what some bullshit is: the long-running claim that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft would reduce traffic and emissions because they’d replace car ownership. Not so. If anything they just significantly added to the number of cars on the road. Here in New York, a good chunk of the cars you see in any traffic jam have TLC for-hire license plates.

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Now Bloomberg says robotaxis, when and if they see wider deployment, could cut pollution because not only will they be electric (there’s no point in doing gas-powered AVs) they’ll be able to drive longer and thus be less prevalent on the road:

Due to the uncertainty around the speed of AV deployment, we’ve modeled out two scenarios in which the timeline of AV adoption varies significantly from our Economic Transition Scenario.

Depending on the region in which they operate, robotaxis can cover three to five times the annual distance of a private passenger vehicles, meaning that in a high AV adoption scenario, far fewer vehicles are required to offer the same level of mobility to consumers.

[…] There’s no doubt electrification will play a defining role in the next few decades of road transport. However, there are still many unanswered questions on the details, such as where and in what segments EVs take hold. How quickly robotaxis materialize is one of the more uncertain factors that will loom large over investment decisions at all levels of the transport value chain.

That’s a nicer way of saying, “We’ve heard big promises in this world before.” So I’m not holding my breath here.

Your Turn

What do you think of Toyota’s plans here? Can the Japanese giant pull it off and match what Hyundai, BYD, Tesla and others are doing?

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Steven Moor
Steven Moor
1 year ago

I dunno what it is about Toyota, but they are (at least to me,) one of the most trustworthy corporations that I can think of.

Brian Schulz
Brian Schulz
1 year ago
Reply to  Steven Moor

Maybe if you buy cars from them, but not if you work for them. Backstabby McStabbypants if you’re a supplier or contractor. My wife worked in an architectural and enginering firm and they were such bastards that she will never buy (nor will she allow me to buy) a Toyota.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago

I am 60 years old. I can not think of a time when Toyota missed predicting the best vehicle for the right time. Noone is making bank on EVs so Toyota just missed losing money. You think they didnt have a team working on them? As far as environmental share holders we have seen lately what pushing a political agenda over profits is doing. I say Toyota BUY BUY BUY if stock goes down because of the ESL or whstever? Buy more. Japan will back stock Toyota if necesary but i bet by 2030 Toyota is top three car sales and profits still.

Vic Vinegar
Vic Vinegar
1 year ago
Reply to  Mr Sarcastic

The takes I’ve seen around the internet like Toyota wasn’t spending a dime on relevant technology are insane. Toyota produces more “big battery” vehicles than anyone, they’re just called hybrids. They’ve been building hybrids for two decades. Hybrids involve batteries and battery research. Personally I’d rather see affordable 40 mile electric PHEVs throughout their entire lineup instead of full EVs, but I don’t think we’ll get that.

The challenge is probably just getting the package right so it 1) doesn’t cost $75k for a EV Highlander and 2) having a supply chain in place to actually deliver those EV Highlanders. China doesn’t want to empower Toyota to be competitive with EVs, and China holds a lot of the cards for having a EV supply chain.

Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
1 year ago

As I’ve said before it’s still early, especially as demonstrated by the CCS/NACS shaking out that we’re seeing now. Also Walmart giving EA the boot so it can put it’s own chargers in, LiFePO4 starting to ship in cars instead of the flammable Li-ion pouches.

Still a lot of moving parts, Toyota’s watching GM and Hyundai recalling all their EVs to replace batteries, and GM and Ford switching plug types mid-stream and VW having software fail and take 20 years to sell an EV Microbus and just over there selling Tacos like no tomorrow.

I’m not sure on the ‘solid state’ batteries though, sounds good in theory, and great for stationary use, but cars vibrate…a lot, especially with the roads not getting better. They better do some serious harmonic testing, as I can just see it now, 3 years after launch the batteries all start having cracks in them and failing, maybe not horrendous fire that engulfs the neighboring Maserati type failure, but dead on the road failure isn’t very good either.

MH7
MH7
1 year ago

The robotaxi companies are full of shit-they will charge damn near as much as the current system and offer no benefits to the consumer. So demand will be no different than what Uber and Lyft currently fulfill; if you own a car now, you’ll still own one in the robotaxi planned utopia. The only difference is that the robotaxi, with no human monitor, will end up full of trash and disgusting. The only environmental savings will be in the fact that the same car is being operated continuously when it’s not charging.

Besides, unless you’re a car company that actually produces and sells your own autonomous vehicles, there won’t be any profit there. GM/Ford/Tesla/etc will charge a fortune for commercial software licenses, and it’s not like Uber drivers are getting a big chunk of the pie right now.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
1 year ago
Reply to  MH7

Also much like the push for unneeded employees to remain unemployed in building big government will require still paying drivers needed or not.

MrLM002
MrLM002
1 year ago

Toyota would be better off making short range compact BEVs like a new BEV iQ.

Uses less batteries, is objectively a city car, low range doesn’t matter as much for a city car.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

Toyota’s longtime approach to decarbonization has been variety—different powertrains for different markets, including ones where electricity has been hard to come by. (I’ve come around to agreeing with that more and more, actually.)

The problem is that BEVs are ironically better in limited electricity environments than any of the other greener alternatives at this point. Hydrogen? Generated by massive amounts of electricity. Efuels? Use hydrogen, also require massive amounts of electricity (even more than hydrogen alone according to some articles). While BEVs are more directly dependent on electricity, they’re also drastically more efficient in their usage of it. If you have limited power you want the BEV that will make use of 80-90% of it, not the hydrogen car that makes use of something less than 50% (I haven’t found reliable info about exactly how efficient hydrogen cars are, but everything I can find seems to agree it’s well below 50%).

Toyota missed the mark, and as I understand it that largely happened because the Japanese government picked hydrogen to subsidize. It wasn’t a technology choice, it was a financial one.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Also, I don’t care about a 900 mile range for regular driving – I’m stopping for at least a couple of hours in 900 miles anyway during which time I could probably charge up a 400 mile battery to get me 900 miles total.

However, a 900 mile range would be killer for towing. Figuring a 50% drop, you’d still get at least 400 miles of range, which is in the ballpark of what my diesel can do. Of course, after 400 miles you’re still stuck trying to find a charger you can get into with a trailer, but at least you’re not doing that every 100 miles like you would with the current BEV trucks.

Then again, I’m sure that 900 mile figure is not a truck, so even if this comes to pass I suspect towing will still be an ICE-dominated area anyway.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Er, no? At least not at the consumer level. In order to fully charge a BEV you need access to a quality power grid that wont destroy your charger or battery with frequency fluctuations and voltage spikes for a decent amount of time. This is something we take for granted in the developed world, but having worked in a number of countries that don’t have the most reliable power grids (one of them ironically being Japan), I can say for certain that BEVs are a no-go for the average consumer in those locations, even totally disregarding the glaring issue of cost.

The problem is really not the outright amount of energy needed, it’s the distribution of said energy. There is no reason why global power output can’t be dramatically increased between next-gen nuclear reactors and increased renewables, but the real trick to managing emissions is getting that to the end user in a reliable way and in a fashion that meets their needs. Gas pumps work fantastically the world over- in order to really drive adoption of non-carbon fuels you have to meet that same standard for the end user. BEVs, at the current moment, are not even close for much of the planet.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

Power conditioners exist. If you’re building cars for places with bad power consistency you just stick one of them in the system and let it smooth things out for the sensitive electronics. Heck, even in the US I’ve had to use one of those for something that was especially sensitive to fluctuation.

Obviously it’s not ideal to be adding components and cost to vehicles for these markets, but there is no ideal solution here. At least this is simple and doable.

There is no reason why global power output can’t be dramatically increased between next-gen nuclear reactors and increased renewables

There are a whole bunch of reasons that can’t/won’t happen. This seems to be the goto argument for hydrogen proponents, but nuclear is a non-starter (unfortunately) due to massive misinformation, and expanding our green energy production enough to even cover our existing use is a huge undertaking. The idea that we’re going to scale renewables in a massive way soon enough to be a viable short to medium-term replacement for ICEs is…let’s say highly implausible.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

AC Propulsion was pointing this out in 2003. Hydrogen fuel cell cars have been nothing more than a boondoggle thus far. The infrastructure requirements are even more onerous than for pure EVs. Hydrogen is much more difficult to transfer and store than electricity. It will require a dedicated piping infrastructure. Storage tanks appropriate for a car are almost as heavy as batteries. The fuel cell stacks themselves use rare metals such as platinum that impose a very expensive floor on the cost per peak kW for a fuel cell stack, these fuel cell stacks rapidly degrade in high heat environments, plus hydrogen fuel cell cars still require a small battery pack.

Hydrogen ICE makes a lot more sense than fuel cell EVs because at least they could be economical to manufacture, infrastructure concerns and well-to-wheels efficiency concerns not-withstanding. BMW’s hydrogen-powered 7-series showcased in Europe 20 years ago worked.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

“BMW’s hydrogen-powered 7-series showcased in Europe 20 years ago worked.”

Sure…as long as you didn’t leave it sitting around too long:

To stay a liquid, hydrogen must be cooled and maintained at cryogenic temperatures of, at warmest, −253 °C (20.1 K; −423.4 °F). When not using fuel, the Hydrogen 7’s hydrogen tank starts to warm and the hydrogen starts to vaporize. Once the tank’s internal pressure reaches 87 psi, at roughly 17 hours of non-use, the tank will safely vent the building pressure. Over 10–12 days, it will completely lose the contents of the tank because of this.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMW_Hydrogen_7

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

I kind of wonder about the weight of 900 miles of range. I know Solid state generally has twice the energy density and supposedly does not require the monitoring, cooling and thermal insulation system of the lithium-ion battery. But it would be interesting if the company that popularized hybrids with the Prius could really show that dolt Elon how to do EV correctly.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

That’s great and all, but how long will the battery last, and how expensive will it be to replace? After Lucid hit 500 miles, I mostly tuned out on the peeing race over range, but those two are still concerns

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

You know the answers to that.

  1. No less than 30 days before and no more than 30 days after the warranty runs out
  2. No less than 75% of the cost of a new car but only if they bothered to make any (they didn’t.)
Marlin May
Marlin May
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

So, in California, 10 years / 150k miles, minimum, by law.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Marlin May

That would be 3 years for me at current mileage rates.

Harmanx
Harmanx
1 year ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Replacement price is anyone’s guess. But solid state battery longevity is claimed to be nicely better than current battery chemistries — in addition to being more energy-dense, lighter-weight, and faster-charging. This stuff has been repeatedly shown in labs — the hurdle now is getting to production at scale (and to cost parity).

JDE
JDE
1 year ago

Uber and Lyft were simply intended to put money in some software guys pocket that was burned by high priced taxis, with cheaper “gig” slaves the number of vehicles on the road did not decrease, in fact many who might normally hoof it or ride that bike in the rain or even take the train could now afford Valet service, so you know the number of terrible drivers watching the phone to get where they go has increased dramatically.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago

Regarding Toyota: Yeah yeah yeah… they’ve being saying they’re working on solid state batteries for years. It’s one thing to work on it. It’s another thing to get it into high volume production. I’ll believe the 900 mile claim once I see the EPA test numbers on a vehicle that is available for purchase.

Lots of talk and not much action when it comes to BEVs. And that’s why shareholders are getting pissed. Knowledgeable shareholders know that once we get into the 2030s, if Toyota doesn’t have a competitive line of BEVs, they will be relegated to a bit player in a lot of big markets like California, the EU and China.

Can the Japanese giant pull it off and match what Hyundai, BYD, Tesla and others are doing?”

Theoretically, Yes. Toyota has the money and technical ability to make competitive BEVs.

The problem is whether the leadership at the top is willing to dive in and make the necessary investments.

FCA/Stellantis had/has the same problem.

Robotaxis: In my view, they are neither good nor bad. They’re just taxis that have higher upfront cost but theoretically have lower overall costs because you don’t need to pay a driver.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
1 year ago

I feel sorry for the kid in the robotaxi pic-
“What the hell is this?! I don’t trust this BS! I want a REAL car!!!” Not that I really care, but what do you mean that robotaxi’s can cover a longer distance?
Also, it’s Toyota so they will be fine…if I had a gun to head, would take Hydrogen car just to spite the EV maniacs forcing/shoving it down our throats

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  Freelivin2713

“…if I had a gun to head, would take Hydrogen car just to spite the EV maniacs forcing/shoving it down our throats”

So buy one. Gently used Mirai can be had fairly cheap:

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/d/livermore-2017-toyota-mirai-hydrogen/7624607927.html

https://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/cto/d/hayward-2017-toyota-mirai-clean-title/7627429996.html

Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
1 year ago

I am also working on a 900-mile battery, but mine will charge in 45-minutes. Current project impediments are a lack of funding, a lack of appropriate manufacturing equipment, and the laws of physics.

Please invest.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago

ESG should be completely scrapped. I won’t go into the politics of that, other than to say it’s a top-down social control scheme and reeks of authoritarianism.

A 900 mile range battery is more than a bit excessive. Why not use that technology to save weight and make EVs that weigh 300+ lbs less than their gasoline ICE equivalents? We already have the tech to do that for a given amount of peak power and still get 200+ miles range if we cut the drag down. The 270 Wh/kg batteries I can order online today are no joke. Soon batteries will offer double or triple that specific capacity and it is really exciting to consider.

EVs and ICE don’t compare directly. With EVs, the issue is range vs weight(need more batteries for more range). With ICE, it’s horsepower vs weight(need larger engines/heavier transmissions to reliably handle more power). Range parity for a given mass vs gasoline powered cars, if you focused on drag reduction for the EV to allow a smaller pack for the desired range, was doable at around 150-200 Wh/kg. The comparison isn’t direct because for a desired amount of power/performance, drag reduction will do nothing to allow the designer to reduce the weight of an ICE car, but has a massive impact on how much weight you can cut from the EV for a desired range. At the extreme end, my 91 lb microcar/velomobile gets 150-200 miles in the city at 30-35 mph with only 19 lbs of batteries!

Solid state batteries allow the potential for a battery that will last a lifetime. LiFePO4 can last literally decades, and the large format CALB cells don’t even need a BMS if you configure them as a single series string with an initial bottom balance(mine are to within 0.001V of each other, a decade later. Also see Jack Rickard’s test on evtv.me). I suspect the CATL cells offer similar reliability sans BMS to the CALB, albeit BYD’s cars still use BMS. Going old school, NiFe batteries could also last a lifetime with proper maintenance(periodic replacement of potassium-hydroxide electrolite), don’t require a BMS, and have existed for over 100 years, albeit their specific capacity is only 50 Wh/kg.

I look forward to solid state batteries becoming a thing. I intend to build “dumb” EVs with minimal electronics that are repairable with basic tools by illiterate high school dropouts. THAT is what a sustainable car will look like. EVs offer a lot of promise with their simplicity and potential for longevity(an electric motor with 0 or 1 moving parts could last millions of miles without any work whatsoever), but currently the auto industry is ruining this potential with all of the complicated electronics and lack of reparability in their offerings. That paradigm must be upended, or EVs will be even more environmentally disastrous than ICE due to all of the e-waste.

Last edited 1 year ago by Toecutter
Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

ESG should be completely scrapped”

Environmental, Social, and Governance investing is not something that you can ‘scrap’. It’s not a car or a thing. It’s people that are using their money and share votes to influence what corporations do.

You might as well say “we should scrap lobbying”… never gonna happen.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago

In the near-term, it could be used to screw over small businesses and penalize them. That should never be acceptable.

It could(will very likely) soon be used to micromanage the lives of individual people.

Late stage capitalism is running out of things to monetize while government fears it is losing control of the narrative, and is now looking at monetizing everything we do in our lives: our opinions, every piece of electronic data about us(including legally protected data such as medical records), and even our biometric data. With the 3rd party doctrine established by the courts coupled with the forms of data collection expanded by the PATRIOT Act, nothing we provide to private companies is private or safe from government. Our private information can and routinely does leave without a warrant or court order, and is collated, packafed up, and re-sold andor otherwise exchanged without our knowledge or consent. With this in place, ESG is a back door to Chinese style social credit.

Don’t scrap this, and we will be looking at a form of totalitarianism like never before seen in history.

Last edited 1 year ago by Toecutter
Drew
Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

We’re already in the dystopia cyberpunk novels tried to warn us about. But ESG isn’t the scary bit. That’s just companies trying to show investors they are doing the right thing, since there are investors who value those sorts of choices. It’s just capitalism pandering to make more money.

We already have something similar to the social credit system. Pay cash for everything? You don’t build your credit like a good little consumer should. And companies already monetize everything about you. Even overstepping the legal bounds is barely a slap on the wrist.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

ESG is a greenwashing campaign to make it appear as if these companies are doing something to reduce their impact upon the environment, without having to actually do anything of substance. They want the individual people to bear the responsibility of the decisions made within the corporate boardrooms.

It is not yet at the point where literally everything you say and do is monitored, but we are rapidly approaching it and are more than 75% of the way there. ESG is one of the tools that will allow for that to come to fruition. I’m not fond of the dystopia we find ourselves living in and am doing what I can to reduce how much I am a part of it. Sometime soon that may not even be possible in any capacity without severe risk of running afoul of the “justice” system.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

It really seems like you don’t actually understand what ESG actually is or how much dystopian bullshit is happening regardless. Sure, it’s mostly measures they take for show, but it’s really pretty much the same thing as Subaru deciding it was time to capture the lesbian demographic or the like. It’s just corporations pretending to improve (or sometimes actually improving) their environmental and social impact by making decisions that certain shareholders like. That’s it. And this shuffling of corporate responsibility to the consumer has been happening far longer than the ESG label. “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” is a hell of a joke when pointed at the individual and not the actual polluters.

Is it helpful? Probably not in any significant sense. But it’s not the problem, either. It isn’t some framework for monitoring individuals, just a pointless scorecard for companies to point to and claim they are doing the right thing, so buy from them. You’re mad at capitalism, and rightly so, but ESG isn’t some overreaching plot, just a way to pretend corporations aren’t doing as much harm as we know they are.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

Solid-state batteries for electric vehicle with ranges of 900 miles or more. Software operating systems that update automatically. Futuristic factories where cars drive themselves through final assembly. Ultra-slick aerodynamics developed through rocket science.

And if you believe that’s happening in the next 5-10 years, you probably also believe that AI will [destroy the world|save the world] and [cure cancer|replace humans] in the next 6 months.

Also, given Toyota’s long and very well established history in software development? The last fucking thing I – as someone who is very much an expert in systems and software – want them getting anywhere near is firmware level updates in the field. But hey, it’s their warranty costs, not mine.

But also on the agenda is a shareholder proposal requiring Toyota to review its climate-related lobbying activities to determine whether they are truly in line with global carbon-neutral goals.

Yeah, free tip here for you shareholders. That’s the least of the lobbying activities you should be looking at or complaining about. Like, seriously. Not even top 100 of their deeply concerning “political” contributions.

So it may not surprise you that if GM achieves this target—and no offense to the company but that remains a big if because a lot could happen in 12 years—ultra-profitable vehicles like the Silverado, Escalade, Suburban and Denali could be the last holdouts. 

Reminder: companies do not give a shit about anything but profits because shareholders do not give a shit about anything but ‘line goes up.’
Take all statements about “zero-emissions” and “carbon-neutral” with the entire winter salt supply for the state of Michigan at the absolute minimum. This goes triple when you’re talking about their profit centers which, yep, the stupid huge pickups and SUVs. Which have extremely long lifecycles, which is what makes them profitable. (Body panel tooling is cheap compared to frame tooling.)

What do you think of Toyota’s plans here? Can the Japanese giant pull it off and match what Hyundai, BYD, Tesla and others are doing?

<just laughs louder>
I wouldn’t trust Toyota to manage a phpBB installation. I can’t imagine why.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

There are prototype batteries demonstrated over the last 20 years that, in conventional EVs without any exceptional consideration for aero efficiency, could double the range for a given battery weight. SION’s prototype LiS batteries demonstrated in 2004 were close to 500 Wh/kg! Stellantis is pursuing this specific chemistry, so that your electric Hellcat or Demon will be able to catch fire and emit the smell of fire and brimstone.

Not sure if we’ll get the batteries being promised in this article by the time they are promised(such promises have come and gone unfulfilled hundreds of times over the last 6 decades), but technology is definitely not the issue there. Nor do we really need these advancements if we design the cars properly in the first place. The batteries that exist on the market today are unfathomably good, compared to what we had just 2 decades ago.

Wuffles Cookie
Wuffles Cookie
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

There are always prototype batteries that do amazing things. They all have “just one or two small issues” to work out before “completely disrupting” the market, and yet we still use lithium ions for everything. You could write the prior two sentences any year for the past quarter century and it would be true- so until someone is actually making a literal heaping pile of money selling disruptive battery tech, it remains vaporware.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  Wuffles Cookie

Oft times, the issues are patent-related, production-related, and/or politics-related, and are completely non-technical in nature.

Recall the entire COBASYS/Ovonic NiMH battery being sold to Texaco by GM fiasco. Toyota’s RAV4 EV had to be taken off the market because competitors such as Panasonic were not allowed to produce their own NiMH batteries over 10AH, and NiMH required a complicated BMS to charge in parallel, while the large format Ovonics were completely kept off the market by an oil company. Given the voltages that EV drive systems of the time operated at, this prevented this battery from use in long range EVs.

This single decision held back EVs by more than a decade. Fortunately, LiIon and LiFePO4 became sort-of economically viable once mass production started. I remember when the first Thundersky LiFePO4 battery packs were ordered in bulk around 2005 and how big of a game changer that was for EV conversions. Hobbyists were finally able to build EV conversions with 100-200 miles range without going to any exceptional effort to improve the aerodynamics. Then Tesla came onto the market demonstrating boutique cars using LiIon to get 200-250 miles range.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

I want to live in your fantasy world, where obviously the 100MPG carburetor that ran on water was also a victim of politics and patents. Somewhere in a secret Exxon bunker there is an engine that turns gasoline into sparkling water while getting 90MPG.

Well, no. Not really. I’ll stick with living in reality, where we’ve been hearing the same tired bullshit about “everyone will switch to battery commuters” since the 1960’s.
And the same “it’s just 10 years away” bullshit line every year since <checks calendar> 1961. That’s when the Henney Kilowatt was going to “revolutionize transport” with a new top speed of 60MPH and a range of 60 miles.

Check those dates again. Nineteen fucking sixty-one.
AMC had one ready to go in 1960. GM had the Electrovair to cancel in 1966. Enfield made their ‘city car’ 8000 in 1973, a whole 40 miles of range. There was the Sinclair C5 that was going to save the world (spoiler: made 14,000 of them, and it still didn’t.) Jet Electrica 007 in 1981 with a whole boatload of government subsidies, actual production car, 60 miles of range and highway speeds, also failed. And so on and so forth.
And hey guess what? “We’re just 10 years away from everything being battery” from AC Propulsion (tZero), Tesla (pre-Melon), GM EV1, over and over and over again. “We’re just 10 years away from recycling batteries!” “We’re just 10 years from a weekend vacation to the moon!” “We’re going to revolutionize the car!” “We’re going to reinvent transportation!” “We’re going to make a $25000 er $35000 car with 550 miles of range!” “We’re going to make a $35000 car with 900 miles of range!” “We’re going to make a $5,000 car with 1800 miles of range that you can charge in 5 minutes off a 120VAC outlet!”

Yeah, and I’ll have successfully crossbred a horse and a reindeer to create a unicorn by 2025.

Like it or not, reality is reality. There is no perpetual motion machine generating infinite free energy buried in an oil company executive’s secret bunker, Chevron invested heavily in Ovonics and the batteries are catastrophically unprofitable without serious volume period, and there is no ‘magic bullet’ that is going to bring the required minimum 8-fold increase in density with the also required 10-fold reduction in weight.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

I’m an electrical engineer. I live in a world of science and math. Not exactly a fantasy world, but a bit abstract to most peoples’ perspective. I’m no automobile mechanic.

I’m familiar with each of those cars you listed. The Electrovair II’s batteries were an experimental Silver Zinc chemistry that allowed it a 100 mile range, having a specific capacity of 120 Wh/kg. Considering the car’s aerodynamics, this was quite a feat. Certain prototype cars of the 1990s such as the GM EV1 and Solectria Sunrise achieved nearly twice that range on batteries half as dense. Putting the silver-zinc batteries in them would have been an interesting experiment. Given the chemistry, silver-zinc would never be economically viable, unlike NiMH. Energy Conversion Devices Chairman Robert Stemple had a presentation explaining how production volume would impact price of large format NiMH batteries, and the claim was $150/kWh in volume for 20,000 cars per year. They were only 60 Wh/kg.

The fact is that battery energy density and specific capacity will likely never match gasoline. And it really doesn’t need to come close. The cars themselves have to change in order to accommodate the technology’s shortcomings, as well as to take advantage of its strengths. Trying to build an EV as one would a gasoline powered car will yield results like the 60-mile-range Henny Kilowatt or Jet Electrica 007 with lead acid batteries, and with modern batteries, still require an excessive pack size in order to give the car a decent range.

Tesla at least understands this to some extent. It got more serious than any other manufacturer about streamlining its lineup and designing a platform made to accommodate the technology. Their initial Tesla Roadster was a glorified Lotus Elise conversion, and the car’s shortcomings were more obvious because of it.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Also, the Electrovair had no trunk space, since everything was taken up by the batteries, was capped to a top speed of 80mph, took 8 hours to recharge, and the batteries were only good for about 100 charge cycles before they needed to be replaced. GM also claimed the battery pack cost them $160,000 in 1966 ($1.5 million today), but I don’t think that’s especially useful, since one-off prototypes of anything will always be way more expensive than volume production. Nonetheless, it would assuredly have had to cost more than a Cadillac if built for sale, and I doubt there would have been many takers for a compact economy car with such limited utility at such an exorbitant price. American Motors was working on various lithium battery ideas in the late 1960s, not sure that any of their electric concept cars had functional batteries, but they did take out some patents and the research work was genuine. Never would have had the funds to go into production themselves, but, on paper at least, their specs were pretty impressive for the time

Last edited 1 year ago by Ranwhenparked
Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

“Somewhere in a secret Exxon bunker there is an engine that turns gasoline into sparkling water…”

Given the main combustion products of gasoline are water and carbon dioxide ALL gasoline vehicles turn gasoline into (vaporized) sparkling water.

“…while getting 90MPG”

I had an old gasoline powered Kawasaki 250 thumper that got 80 MPG. Close enough?

TheCrank
TheCrank
1 year ago

I hope robotaxis have the option of piping in modem noises during the ride so I can get the true taxi cab experience of my driver loudly being on the phone.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago

That final quote from Toyota on wanting to be able to pivot in the middle of a development cycle is alarming. If Toyota has anything going for it, it is quality. They have always been criticized for being a bit of a laggard at times, but it is with good reason. They perfect a design and process over years and do evolutionary changes instead of constant clean-sheet redesigns, let alone changes mid-development! Also – “revamping” the vaunted Toyota Production System? They better be really freaking careful with that, too. I am a lean subject matter expert, and have seen companies lose the plot all too often. It is all about the basics, discipline and staying closely connected to your processes; not chasing the shiny new thing. I am not saying it is impossible to integrate new methods and technology into this methodology, but they better be damn careful.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

I am a lean subject matter expert, and have seen companies lose the plot all too often. 

Toyota losing the plot on lean would be a world-shaking event. I agree with you that this seems like a big risk for them.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

For sure. I may be reading a little too far into it, but that language is a little troubling. On the flip side, if anybody could truly take Lean manufacturing to a whole new level the right way, it’s Toyota.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

That was my takeaway as well. A mandate from clueless executives that development cycles be drastically shortened? What could go wrong?!

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

I feel like there is this misconception that traditional manufacturing discipline somehow doesn’t apply to EVs. Every Tom, Dick, and Rivian thinks they can jump right in and make quality stuff at scale with zero experience. Every start-up wants to build and market them like smart phones.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago

I don’t mean this in a disrespectful way at all (quite the opposite actually) but I remain a little perplexed when it comes to Japanese business culture. It seems like it’s an entire other universe of norms, expectations, standards, etc. To my eye it seems like this often lends itself to very rigid, uncompromising ideas and standards…although this certainly happens at other companies too.

As a result companies like Honda and Toyota seem as though they absolutely excel in areas that they deem to be of the utmost importance (reliability, hybrid technology, manual transmissions, sporty compact cars, etc.) but often refuse or are really slow to adapt from their internal priorities, which causes them to lag horrendously when it comes to areas that they don’t personally care about as much (EVs, EVs, EVs, making decent automatic transmissions, modernizing their truck and SUV powertrains, etc).

If someone knows more than I do feel free to chime in, but to my eyes what’s going on at Toyota more or less seems like the cycle most of their manufacturers go through. They get really good at something, they then stick to it beyond its expiration date, and then they have to shake up the company because the old guard won’t adapt. For better or worse Akio stuck to exactly what mattered to him and he saw no need to move on from what Toyota has gotten so good at. Whether or not it’ll affect them in the long run remains to be seen, but they remain way behind the 8 ball on EVs.

Last edited 1 year ago by Nsane In The MembraNe
RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

So, speaking as someone with extensive exposure to Japanese business culture. It really is an entirely different universe.

For example, in France or Germany, while many people speak English, making an effort to speak the local language is looked at as a positive. In Japan? It’s pretty much an insult if you aren’t fluent in Japanese. Rely on your interpreter. If your counterpart speaks English, stick to that.
Rigidity isn’t even beginning to cover it, either. In Japan you are either an heir, a salaryman, or blue collar. If you’re not an heir, then you are not only expected to say yes and do what you are told, 80 hours a week minimum, period. Pointing out that setting the building on fire is insurance fraud will get you fired. And you do not want to be fired, because you are expected to stay with that company for your entire life.
And you will set the building on fire because that is how it has been done for centuries, and we’re not about to change now. “But… but… Japan’s where all the high technology comes from!”
Yes, and? These are not incompatible things. Japanese business processes are as rigid as titanium alloys. Ideas do not originate with salarymen. Things do not bubble up. It is 100% top-down management, including the rolling downhill idioms. You know which. And the chairman is a sacred cow who must not be questioned or challenged.

And certain companies are quite literally considered untouchable. Top of that list? Toyota. Even when they do something beyond the pale, newspapers and magazines reporting on it will refuse to name Toyota. If you go to your editor with a story about employees working 80 hour weeks every week, with witnesses and documentation and multiple sources, and that company is Toyota? The story gets spiked and you probably don’t have a job any more.

Which means NOTHING at Toyota happens without the personal approval of Akio Toyoda or the people he hand-picked to be his direct reports. There are no ‘rogue projects’ or ‘wild ideas.’ So if Akio Toyoda doesn’t say “hey, let’s do BEVs,” nobody does anything with BEVs.
And Toyota has been a notorious source of karōshi for decades. Toyota of course, insists that they are now paying workers for all their overtime and monitoring their health. (Yeah, no. They aren’t.)

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

This is fascinating insight. Thanks for your response and sharing your experience.

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

It really is a trip dealing with Japan. Not just on the car side. Former employer had a very large Japanese presence (because we were the only ones with real localization,) so we had a large sales team over there.

NA and EMEA sales teams, when they needed something to close a big deal, the sales people would come direct and be “the product needs X! If this is not on the roadmap, we need to discuss it ASAP!”
The Japanese teams, everything would be a question, usually routed through five other people. “Does the product have Y?” No, sorry, should it be on the roadmap? Crickets for weeks or months until it reached the regional head, and then it was without fail just straight up “you will do X and you will do it by Y.” If Y was completely unreasonable and you said as much? You would get yelled at, at minimum. Even though they had no authority over development at all. But they had seniority. (Which is a whole goddamn other thing.)
And frankly, I shudder to think of what the internal localization people went through. Because development would offer deliver very, very late. And somehow (read: poor bastards working 100+ hour weeks,) Japanese localization always went out on time.

Oh, and also, holy shit the xenophobic and nationalistic racism. Like, seriously. I can’t describe how completely normalized, universal, and severe it is.

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago

Bloomberg’s assertions make no sense at all.

It doesn’t matter if a car can be on the road longer, because traffic isn’t distributed based on how long a car can drive. The same amount of cars will be needed because of traffic patterns and where people need to be at specific times. If a robotaxi can go for 24 hours, who cares? The peak times are still the same, you need the same number of cars, and drivers typically plan their day around the most profitable times anyway.

If they go “well more people can use a robotaxi at the same time” then we have these inventions called buses and trains.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

Robotaxis promise fewer total cars built and better use of urban space as there won’t be all these cars that are parked 95% of the time. The same number of cars will be needed to carry the same people at the same time (plus empty cars on their way to pickups). However, robotaxis enable more of the transportation as a service model, where peak pricing can both optimize the size of the fleet, the mix of the fleet (including buses and trains) and the size of the roads needed to carry them. My utopian vision is robotaxis are integrated into a public transit system providing various levels of cost and service.

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago

But the cars will still be parked 95% of the time because of the 5% of the time where they’re all needed. The cars don’t stop existing on off peak hours. There is nothing that can fundamentally change just because you don’t need drivers. People still go to work at the same time, go home at the same time, and so on.

If you want to fundamentally change traffic patterns that’s accomplished by better urban planning.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

The 5% of the time they are used is not all at the same time. Not every car is used every day or every rush hour. If cars are shared and perhaps have peak pricing, this does fundamentally change the number of cars needed in the total fleet (and thus the parking resources needed). Secondly, where the cars park will be dramatically different (e.g., suburban charging stations, not downtown parking garages.)

But yes, we need better planning and land use to minimize car travel in cities.

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago

Your assertions are nonsensical. Peak pricing doesn’t change traffic flow because the reason it’s peak is because everyone needs to be similar places at the same time. You’re not changing traffic patterns, you’re making existing traffic patterns more expensive.

Downtown parking garages take up property, but they are also where people are during the day. Parking in the suburbs is impractical and inefficient because people don’t need to be in the suburbs during working hours, so you would have people driving in to the city center as well as out at the same time, and travelling increased distances.

As for “well robotaxis can be shared” so can regular taxis, or Ubers, and so on. They aren’t. You’re pretending a robot is going to change human nature.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

Pricing absolutely does change traffic patterns! See HOT lanes, congestion pricing (London, Sweden), and induced demand increasing traffic, etc (e.g., https://www.ibm.com/blog/stockholm-congestion-pricing-iot-analytics-government/) It spreads peak traffic out and shifts people to transit and biking. Not everyone has to travel when and how they do. PM peak traffic is only 10% home commute trips. I am also not certain you are aware of how much space in city center is dedicated to parking. We would get 20-30% more city center (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2023-03-29/maplab-parking-occupies-vast-swaths-of-space-in-city-centers)! This is what I’ve been focused on.

The overarching issue that there cannot be enough space in cities to allow everyone to drive and then park, which I think we agree on. Robotaxis have the potential to shake up people’s practices and transit/policy structures enough to move people from driving their car everywhere always (but can certainly make things worse too). You are right that it is not in itself an automatic solution, but a potential part of the puzzle.

When I said “shared” I was referring to fleet vehicles, not separate parties in one car. Robots aren’t going to change human nature, but policy and pricing can.

Citrus
Citrus
1 year ago

But the fact remains that I leave work at 5:00. Everyone else in my office leaves work at 5:00. Peak pricing doesn’t change when I leave work. Putting in robotaxis won’t change when people who use taxis and Ubers use taxis and Ubers, because they still have the same schedule.

And that is the fundamental thing about robotaxis, they’re just taxis and Ubers. And they are going to be the same problem. The solution is not “well this is our new taxi!” It’s finding ways to make public or foot traffic more appealing to users. The only way to get cars out of downtown is to make it unnecessary to take cars downtown, not to put a different car downtown.

Joe
Joe
1 year ago
Reply to  Citrus

Perhaps this is tangential, but there is another alternative to congestion, other than making public transportation/foot traffic more appealing. That alternative would be reducing the need to go downtown in the first place. Promoting work-from-home policies, improving end-user deliveries, and possibly spreading out the places one needs to go (i.e. more mom and pop hardware stores, less big box stores) would also help to reduce congestion in high-traffic areas.

Either way though, you’re right that simply replacing human taxis with robo taxis won’t do much to help when the base problem is too many cars in one place.

Last edited 1 year ago by Joe
Drew
Drew
1 year ago

Robotaxis as essentially last-mile delivery, but for people, makes some sense, but a large number of proponents envision robotaxis being the primary transportation method, which is unfortunate.

As to the cars not being parked, what happens to the excess robotaxis between peak hours? Sure, you’ll want some ability to swap cars in/out for charging, but it’s still a lot of cars parked.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

It is perhaps a lot of cars parked but 1) a lot fewer than are parked now and 2) they don’t have to be parked, say, in the core of downtown for 8 hours doing nothing. That former parking room can be used for other purposes.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago

We already have taxis, Uber, etc. That hasn’t drastically reduced the number of cars parked in downtown core areas. I wouldn’t expect autonomous cars to shake out much differently.

That said, there are policy changes that can further this more than simple pricing. Driver’s testing could be more thorough and happen more often, registering cars could be more expensive, and license revocation as a penalty could push more people to utilize public transit or automated taxis. Work from home could reduce the number of commuters. Flexible schedules could ease traffic (or, ideally, reduce the passenger load for mass transit).

Regardless, the solution to too many cars can’t entirely rely on changing the owners of those cars. All robotaxis will do in that case is add another method of income generation that funnels wealth from the people who need to go to work to the people who own robotaxis without really addressing the underlying issues of a country built around the automobile.

Right now, one of the best things we can do is build out public transit and affordable housing and create incentives for walking/bicycling to and from the nearest mass transit station/stop or to/from destinations. But the robotaxis sell cars and create a revenue source for the buyer, and we are a society that prioritizes profit.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago

This is exactly the same argument being made for ride-sharing services, and it hasn’t proved true with them either. Removing the driver isn’t going to magically reduce the number of cars on the road. It might reduce the number of pedestrians as AVs run them down though. 😉

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Very true about “ride-sharing” which is a mis-nomer as it was never sharing rides. It may have reduced car ownership, but not vehicle miles traveled, which is far more important (see trips to pick up passengers). There are differences with robotaxis: they will be much more expensive to make and maintain, given all the sensors, which point to fleet ownership (see Waymo). The hope is peak pricing with spread demand, but it depends on policy and land use changes. I shared my utopia above. My dystopia is people living hours away from work and napping on their commute; 8 and 80 year old have their own cars; empty cars circling instead of paying for parking, empty cars returning home to avoid paying for parking, empty cars picking up dry cleaning, etc.

Another dystopia: people know AVs will stop for them, so cross the street wherever they want and cars stop for them (utopia so far) so pedestrian crossings become extremely restricted by walls, fences, etc.

SYKO Simmons
SYKO Simmons
1 year ago

Have come to the realization that EVs are just a big joke…. Everything about them

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 year ago
Reply to  SYKO Simmons

Did this realization happen after you got kicked in the head by a horse?

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 year ago
Reply to  SYKO Simmons

When you say “everything” … could you list those things?

Chris with bad opinions
Chris with bad opinions
1 year ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Doubtful, irrational people usually can’t do that.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago

Toyota doesn’t tend toward the massive exaggerations that certain companies like to use, though the recent rumors that the shareholders support ousting Toyoda make me skeptical. It’s a hell of a pivot from telling people the best way to reduce emissions is small batteries in a lot of hybrids to claiming you’re going to offer enough EV range to drive at freeway speeds for 10+ hours nonstop.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

If they have figured out a way to profitably mass-produce solid-state batteries, they might go beyond selling EVs and either supply batteries for everyone or license the tech. Could be really interesting to see how it plays out if they do jump ahead of others on battery tech like that.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago

Not sure about anyone else, but I’d feel like sort of a doofus if I bought a vehicle built at “the most profitable auto plant in the world”.

05LGT
05LGT
1 year ago

Thank you for making my face hurt.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

I’ll obviously believe a 900 mile battery when I see it, but I fully support development of EVs with real, useful road trip ranges, and aggressive goals, even if the real thing ends up being less impressive.

I would buy a 900 mile EV.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Yeah it’s pretty tough to argue against the EV concept if battery breakthroughs really get us to borderline absurd range capability.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

I mean, I’ve been hearing that battery breakthroughs are “just a couple years away” since about 2009, so I’ll take Toyota’s prediction with all the grains of salt in the ocean, but again, I appreciate the fact that they are not settling for what blog commenters say people “should need” range wise.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

IMHO, solid state batteries will be ready when hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and level 5 self driving cars are ready

R Rr
R Rr
1 year ago

Those solid state batteries will charge with nuclear fusion since they will be available at the exact same time 🙂

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

It seems like a rash reaction to everyone crapping on their long-standing (IMO superior) logic when it comes to full EVs and hybrids. I can just picture it now. “We’re going blue in the face trying to get through to people that hybrids and plug-ins will make a much bigger impact now! F* it. Give them their damn 1000 mile battery! Whatever!”

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

There might be some truth to this.

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

A 900 mile range would be awesome, but a waste for people like me. I have a baby…

I’m in the middle of a vacation with my 10 month old son. We took our Tesla Model 3. So far with seven charging stops, the car has always been ready before we were! Plus we had a bonus 20 minute stop in the middle of our longest 2.5 hour section to deal with a diaper blowout.

Maybe once he gets older, EV charging will become the road trip pain point. Right now, we can’t even max out our 272 mile range!

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 year ago

I’m debating getting the cheap M3RWD. Any regrets not having more acceleration, range, or audio you get with other models?

RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
RidesBicyclesButLovesCars
1 year ago
Reply to  Jalop Gold

Range isn’t an issue since 99% of the miles will be around home. Then the Supercharger network takes care of the other 1%.

It’s also the fastest car I have ever owned (hit 97MPH in no time passing someone on a back road) and it has the best audio system I have ever had.

I guess it all depends on what you have driven before. I come from a long line of slow shit boxes.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
1 year ago

I’ve never spend more than $5000 on a car. My E90 is about 5.6 0-60, and a good sound system. I’ve driven Tesla’s but not a RWD.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

A 900 mile range would be awesome, but a waste for people like me.

That’s fine, and I’m not calling for every car to have a 900 mile range. It would just be nice if one was offered. Maybe I’m the only one who would buy it, but I doubt it.

Another Engineer
Another Engineer
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

The issue is how much does that battery weigh when you haul it needlessly 10 miles to work everyday? The need for a 900 mile range without charging (hard core road trip mileage) is such a tiny use case and likely better served overall by a 50-mile range PHEV.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago

I don’t totally disagree, but when the wise and benevolent government decrees that only EVs will be allowed, then I need something without compromises.

SCJeff
SCJeff
1 year ago

I agree that it’s kind of silly for those mythical non-stop road trips people seem to always talk about. However, huge range would be a big bonus for apartment dwellers, and others who don’t have a dedicated charger. They would only have to recharge once a month or so and that would be a game changer.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
1 year ago

“The issue is how much does that battery weigh when you haul it needlessly 10 miles to work everyday?”

That can be asked of every multi seat, single occupancy commuter on the road, especially full sized SUVs and trucks hauling full loads of air.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

A 150 kWh pack of non-particularly-spectacular 250 Wh/kg cells you can buy today off the shelf in a highly streamlined sedan would be a 900 mile range battery. Give up planned obsolescence and corporate brand identity imposed into the design/styling, and it was possible in the last decade.

This talk of “rocket science” inspired aerodynamics has me interested. That is exactly what EVs need to live up to their promise.

Last edited 1 year ago by Toecutter
Mthew_M
Mthew_M
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

Yep. A GM 212 kWh battery in a Lucid Air Dream Range, and you’re there. Shouldn’t be too terribly difficult for Toyota to do something like this as a really high-end Lexus, or something along those lines, if they truly wanted to.

Ben
Ben
1 year ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

I strongly suspect a larger battery could not be fit in the Lucid Air. Based on the Munro teardown, they’ve already used up basically every available cubic inch of space in those cars. The Hummer can have such a large battery because it’s such a large vehicle, but making the vehicle larger to fit a larger battery will counteract some/all of the range increase. You would almost certainly struggle to create a vehicle that could fit the Hummer battery but have anywhere near the efficiency of a Lucid Air.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben

Depends also on the choice of battery. Lots of batteries that have the same chemistry and close to the same specific capacity(wh/kg), but can vary by 50-100% or more regarding energy density(wh/L).

Unclesam
Unclesam
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

This is the logical next step after the current “it was styled after a bullet train” sienna. One shouldn’t get one’s hopes up.

James Davidson
James Davidson
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

We changed our lawn tractor over from Lead Acid batteries to LiFePo4. The new batteries weigh MUCH less, like two-thirds less, there is no drop off in power, they charge to 100% without a problem and the lawn tractor runs about three times as long as it did when new with its original batteries. Lighter, cheaper batteries that hold more energy are absolutely real and what is on the market is getting incrementally better all the time.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  James Davidson

LiFePO4 is currently my favorite chemistry that I can buy. Not only do I get rid of the fire hazard, but they are generally more robust than normal LiIon. The large format 100AH cells in my Triumph GT6 conversion don’t even need a BMS, and in fact installing a BMS could shorten their life if the car sits for long enough.

The CALBs in my car are like 110 Wh/kg. Their specific capacity isn’t at all good by today’s standards, but it’s enough. Once my aeromods are done, this will be a 200 mile range car using them. The new CATL LiFePO4 batteries carry twice as much energy per pound, and I’d love to get ahold of some. I could have this car weighing hundreds of lbs less than it did stock running a gasoline ICE.

Because weight is a massive concern for my velomobiles, the electric one does use LiIon, in spite of the fire hazard presented. I have a 1.5 kWh pack weighing 19 lbs, including battery box/casing, BMS, and wiring(the batteries composing it are around 220 Wh/kg). With the next body shell, a rear firewall is going to be behind me like the Shell Eco Marathon cars where the battery will mount, isolating me from anything that could go wrong.

Pupmeow
Pupmeow
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

I wouldn’t. I’d buy the lighter, cheaper version that gets 300 miles of range. What’s the use case for a battery system that provides 900 miles of range? That means you have too many batteries.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

I can think of a few:

-road racing. 900 miles range at 70 mph might mean 300 miles range at 130 mph.

-long distance road trips in locations with little to no charging infrastructure. Good luck finding a charger in rural Idaho or Montana

-the ability to power your house off of your battery pack if your power is knocked out during a storm for an entire week

All limited use cases, mind you. Range anxiety is a real thing and there are people that would gladly pay for that sort of range.

Personally, I want to see a reasonable-sized battery of 25-30 kWh, used to get range comparable to cars with double the pack size by focusing on the platform’s efficiency. The cars on the market all have battery packs way too large because the cars themselves are mostly about 2x more energy hungry than they need to be. At least baby steps are being taken in this direction, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 6 or the Lucid Air. But we need something more drastic, like say, the Mercedes Vision EQXX concept.

R Rr
R Rr
1 year ago
Reply to  Toecutter

But there has to be a downside to hauling around a ton of batteries on my 20mile commute or 10mile grocery store trips every single day, just so I can go on that once-a-year trip so see grandma and brag that I didn’t have to stop to charge on the way, right?

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  R Rr

Of course there are many.

Your overall operating cost is going to increase significantly if you don’t put enough miles on the larger battery pack to justify its expense, given that they degrade over time. The larger battery is going to cost more. The vehicle is going to weigh more, requiring everything about the vehicle itself to be sturdier and generally heavier to accommodate the increased battery weight. It’s more difficult to package a large battery which is going to change the chassis/vehicle design to accommodate it. A larger battery pack imposes a cascading effect on the rest of the car itself. Personally, I’m not a fan.

V10omous
V10omous
1 year ago
Reply to  Pupmeow

Towing, range loss in cold weather, and age degradation to name a few.

I routinely drive 500 miles with one brief fuel/food stop. Sometimes towing. It’s not theoretical for me.

Toecutter
Toecutter
1 year ago
Reply to  V10omous

Towing with an EV is going to have a greatly more significant impact on range than most will expect, possibly cutting the range to 1/3 of what it normally would be. Hauling a trailer behind something greatly increases the wind resistance and mass, and on hill climbs, the extra current demanded to accelerate the vehicle increases the heat losses from the motor.

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