Kato: EVs Need Nobel Prize-Quality Battery Technology

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
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kato evs need nobel prize quality battery technology

Toyota’s global R&D head Mitsuhisa Kato has little regard for the current crop of EVs, proclaiming the technology to make them viable in his eyes has yet to be invented.

Automotive News reports that although his team will still do R&D work on EVs, Kato believes there are few customers seeking a vehicle with short cruising ranges:

The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.

He added that while EVs could be brought to parity with ICE vehicles, doing so using current technology would establish “a vicious circle” over costs and charging times.

Toyota itself is moving away from EVs into hydrogen with the upcoming 2015 FCV; the outgoing RAV4 EV and eQ will be gone from the global lineup by the time the FCV arrives in January of next year.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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6 of 38 comments
  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Jul 08, 2014

    Not a fan of EVs or even hybrids BUT what if every automaker came to an universal agreement to use standardized batteries (you know, AA, C, D, etc.) whose packaging was a known quantity, then you could stuff the newest, latest and greatest chemistry inside. Think Rayovac Alkaline vs. Energizer Lithium. Both can be had in common sizes. Your 2020 Leaf II could still be using lithium-ion, but suppose in 2025 some genius invented a nano-unobtanium-phosphate battery boasting 2X range... Probably a pipe dream since the consumer electronics guys can't even decide on a standard AC adapter.

  • APaGttH APaGttH on Jul 08, 2014

    Toyota has been consistent in its position shunning EVs as the next generational solution. This has been their message publicly for close to a decade now. What's interesting is that some of their non-hybrid offerings are getting dated, and although delivery excellent fuel economy are matched or beaten by the competition now (1.8, 2.4, 3.5, 4.7). They continue to deliver the goods in the hybrid space. It is definitely very interesting that Toyota is saying EV is not the way to go, and banking on hydrogen. They aren't the only one, almost every major maker has at least a pilot program going and a number of vehicles on the street. Generally agree with Toyota and above posters that energy density, charging time, and range remain issues for EVs. Tesla has addressed a number of these, but with a very large price tag to get there.

    • See 1 previous
    • Pch101 Pch101 on Jul 08, 2014

      @Scoutdude Toyota helped to spearhead the development of hybrids because of the limitations of batteries. Toyota is an automaker. It is not a battery research laboratory. It is not in a position to revolutionize the battery, just as Toyota isn't going to get into the oil business. Tesla isn't in that position, either. Its solution to the battery density problem has been to install a much larger, heavy battery that costs too much to make and that takes up a lot of space, and then to push that battery harder than a conventional automaker would. This is a scientific problem that a manufacturer isn't going to remedy; low energy density is inherent to batteries.

  • Xeranar Xeranar on Jul 08, 2014

    Company that is already making shift to Hydrogen fuel cells and having the help of their home government making it viable castigates EV technology. Is that the point I'm supposed to take away here or am I supposed to take his argument at face value? I'm not doubting that EVs need improvement, I'm just a bit hard-pressed to believe Mr. Kato is arguing a point in good faith. Then again, I would be fine going Hydrogen Fuel Cells if we invested in the Hydrogen fuel infrastructure that could be up and running in less than a decade if our government would follow Japan on this.

  • HydrogenOnion HydrogenOnion on Jul 08, 2014

    "Mitsuhisa Kato has little regard for the current crop of EVs, proclaiming the technology to make them viable in his eyes has yet to be invented." "Toyota itself is moving away from EVs into hydrogen with the upcoming 2015 FCV;" Is this guy the Japanese version of GM's former CEO Rick Wagoner? Seriously... he's saying EVs aren't viable and then pushes hydrogen vehicles... which are far less viable than any BEV. Maybe what's really going on here is a gentleman's agreement they have with Tesla.