Toyota has partnered with the University of Tohoku in Japan to develop a new technology that will greatly improve the storage capacity of lithium ion batteries ten-fold.
Although Toyota is at the forefront in electric vehicle technology, the improvements in the lithium ion battery could mean much more practical and marketable electric vehicles for the average consumer.
The innovation comes in the form of single crystals of lithium cobalt oxide. According to Autoblog.com, current lithium-ion batteries are usually made from a polycrystalline form of lithium cobalt oxide connected with grains of graphite. With the use of less graphite and a single crystal, there is more room for the ions that create a greater electrical charge.
The greater storage capacity not only creates a more powerful battery, but it could also allow Toyota to reduce the size, weight and cost of the battery pack. Up to this point, Toyota has not delved into electric vehicle development because of the belief that the current lithium ion batteries are not powerful enough to provide the necessary range.
According to a Toyota spokesperson, the storage improvements that allow 10 times more ions could potentially increase the range of electric vehicles up to 10 times the current range. The greater storage capacity could also enable Toyota to reduce the size, weight and possibly the cost of the battery pack.
Toyota officials have not revealed technical details about the improvements, but they have said that the new technology may not be released for a production car until 2019. Until then, Toyota will continue working to make electric vehicles a more viable option for consumers.