Toyota Motor Corp and BMW AG are currently at work on a lithium-air battery design for hybrid and electric vehicles. The battery product will reportedly be more powerful than current Prius and eQ lithium-ion batteries. The two automakers are also at work on a hydrogen fuel cell system that should be ready by 2020, according to Toyota sources. BMW has indicated that a launch date for the technology has not been decided.
BMW, Toyota partnership cuts costs
By partnering up on the lithium-air and hydrogen fuel cell projects, BMW and Toyota are able to cut development costs. This enables the duo to more easily stay ahead of research and development milestones set by the competition.
“In order for FCVs (fuel cell vehicles) to become more widely used, it needs to be cheaper. That would require a great deal of time and cost for development,” said Toyota Vice Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada, who led the development of the Prius hybrid vehicle. “By bringing together the wisdom of two companies, we can aim to make FCVs more popular much quicker.”
Advantages of a lithium-air battery
In theory, a lithium-air battery can generate and store more electricity than a lithium-ion battery. It has an anode filled with lithium, and a cathode filled with air. The newly emerging technology is under study by numerous researchers, including those at IBM, who are looking for a lithium-air solution that will enable electric vehicles to run over 500 miles on a single charge.
Other projects for Toyota and BMW
In addition to the aforementioned projects, Toyota and BMW also have plan to work together on a shared platform and technology for a mid-sized sports car. The automakers will work to make that and other cars lighter and more fuel-efficient. For BMW, this move is predicated on its need to reduce emissions of its new fleets one-third by 2020.
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