Toyota hoping to still collaborate with Tesla on battery technology

Article by Christian A., on May 26, 2014

Toyota Motor Corp. is hoping to still collaborate with Tesla Motors Inc. on battery technology after their battery-supply deal comes to an end this year, according to Osamu Nagata, president and chief executive of Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America.

He remarked that Tesla has “quite a clear business strategy” for developing a better battery, noting that carmakers and suppliers need to work on developing better batteries. Toyota has disclosed that it will terminate an agreement announced two years ago that entails Tesla supplying 2,600 battery packs for the electric variant of the Toyota RAV4 over three years.

Toyota holds a 2.5-percent stake in Tesla. Nagata, meanwhile, remarked that he hopes Toyota can show the “very strong capabilities” of fuel cell vehicles in order to convince more consumers of the potential and possibilities of the units.

Nagata, however, could not say if fuel-cell technology is better than EV technology. Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota’s North American region, has revealed that the carmaker is shifting its focus from longer-range, battery EVs to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, saying that the Japanese company perceives battery-electric vehicles as viable only in limited situations like for traveling shorter distances and for use on large corporate campuses.

Lentz remarked that Toyota views that hybrids and plug-in hybrids as well as fuel cells are better alternatives to battery EVs when it comes to long-range travel.

The Toyota RAV4 EV comes as the result of collaborative efforts between Toyota Motor Corp. and Tesla Motors. The electrified version of the RAV4 was officially brought into the market, just around 22 months after the project was announced.

Toyota and Tesla engineers worked together to combine Toyota's best-selling SUV with a Tesla-designed and produced battery and electric powertrain. The collaborative team for the Toyota RAV4 EV aimed to create a vehicle that offers a refined customer experience. Thus, they designed the Toyota RAV4 EV to be easy to use for customers while being able to deliver maximum vehicle range, as made possible by an array of interior comfort, interactive displays and advanced charging options.

Offered as a front-wheel drive model with an electric powertrain that could deliver 154 HP (115kW) at 2,800 rpm, the Toyota RAV4 EV could be operated in any of the two available drive modes: Normal and Sport. When operated in Normal mode, the Toyota RAV4 EV could accelerate from a complete stop to 60 mph in 8.6 seconds and achieve a maximum speed of 85 mph. In Sport mode, the Toyota RAV4 EV could sprint from zero to 60 mph in just 7.0 seconds while going as fast as 100 mph.

Thanks partly to its low center of gravity and low coefficient of drag, the new Toyota RAV4 EV offers a very smooth, quiet ride as well as comfortable handling. It also boasts of having the lowest coefficient of drag among SUVs in the world, at a value of just 0.30 Cd. This is thanks to the restyled parts like the front bumper, upper and lower grill as well as side mirrors, under body design and rear spoiler. To give the Toyota RAV4 EV a sedan-like ride, its battery pack is mounted low and to the center of the SUV.

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Topics: toyota, tesla, technology

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