The Japanese brand's North American arm realizes EV batteries won't last forever.
As the world's major automakers make the quantum shift from combustion to electrification, One major area of pushback from the general public has been battery longevity and the ramifications once they are no longer suitable for use in an EV due to age. Toyota - a strong adversary to the EV push for some time before launching the Toyota bZ4X - knows this, which is why it is already thinking beyond the here and now to life beyond EVs for its batteries.
Toyota has announced that, as part of its new environment and carbon neutrality commitments, it will be partnering with Redwood Materials to work on a closed-loop EV battery system, which will be used to clean up the battery life cycle in vehicles like the bZ4X. While Toyota insists that consumer demand drives its slow EV pace, the brand is still working to embrace electrification, even if it's clear it doesn't really want to.
Toyota said in a statement that the focus is on the collection, testing, and recycling of batteries into raw materials. That will allow those raw materials to be used again in other products, helping to dramatically increase the effectiveness of Toyota's battery life cycle. Both companies are also looking to expand this partnership into areas like battery health screening, to better understand how new EV batteries degrade.
"We are excited to be working with Redwood Materials to identify solutions for our electrified powertrains at the end-of-life that contributes to our vision of creating a sustainable, circular battery ecosystem," said Christopher Yang, group vice president of business development at Toyota.
"We are committed to developing sustainable solutions that allow our batteries to provide value beyond the initial lifecycle in an electrified vehicle. This also contributes to our carbon neutrality goals and our mission to build a more sustainable world for all," he concluded.
Toyota is also working to spin up its battery production, which will hopefully directly translate into better range figures for its future electric models. The bZ4X already has a little bit of a range problem, with only 250 miles on tap, but that often gets written off as a first-time error. Those can't happen again, and Toyota says they won't.
The brand has announced a $1.2 billion investment into a new battery plant in North Carolina. When that is completed it'll produce battery packs for more than 1.2 million electric vehicles per year, with Toyota expecting to sell around 8 million EVs annually. Ideally, this new partnership will mean that much of that is now carbon-neutral from start to end.