Toyota is developing magnesium-sulfur battery at Michigan technical center

Article by Christian Andrei, on January 13, 2011

Toyota Motor Corp. is developing a magnesium battery that has twice the energy of lithium-ion cells, according to Jeffrey Makarewicz, the engineer managing the U.S. project, who was interviewed at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

He said that Toyota’s technical center in Ann Arbor, Mich., is working on the magnesium-sulfur battery, which complements the development of other future electric-power chemistries at Toyota labs in Japan.

He said that the energy capacity is doubled in the switch from nickel-metal hydride to lithium ion. He said that under ideal conditions, lithium ion theoretically, has a capacity of about 2,000 kilowatt hours.

However, he thinks that this is still not enough for a very competitive battery that’s required for future plug-in, electric and hybrid-electric vehicles. Makarewicz said that vehicles with magnesium batteries or alternative materials may be ready by about 2020.

Meanwhile, Nissan Motor Co. and General Motors Co., during the past month, have released rechargeable models with lithium-ion packs that extended the distances run on battery power alone.

Nissan aims for its Leaf to be the best-selling all-electric car worldwide, hoping to sell annual global sales of at least 500,000 battery-powered cars. This figure includes sales of the Leaf and models from affiliate Renault SA within the next few years.

Bob Carter, Toyota’s U.S. group vice president, said that due to power-pack limitations, the carmaker expects “much more modest” U.S. demand for battery-only vehicles during this period. [via autonews - sub. required]

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