This was predictable given that Toyota put all its chips into relatively useless alternative energies.
For quite some time, Toyota held the crown as the world’s leader in alternatively-powered automobiles after it built the Prius and managed to succeed in convincing the world that not all good cars had to rely exclusively on gasoline to get around. And then….silence. As one of the world’s largest automakers and the developer of highly capable hybrid drivetrains, it would seem that Toyota was in a prime position to introduce the world to the affordable mass-market electric car.
Instead, it focused almost exclusively on advancing hydrogen fuel cell technology. This left many scratching their heads because even though the low-volume and mostly experimental Mirai is proof that hydrogen is a viable fuel source, the technology has more drawbacks—mainly on the infrastructure front—than electric cars. That’s why Toyota’s newest partnership with Panasonic, one that builds on the two companies’ previous partnership by venturing into the world of solid-state batteries and prismatic cells, makes so much sense. After spending billions in hydrogen fuel cell technology while neglecting battery electric cars, Toyota now finds itself behind the research and development curve.
While Toyota was spending time looking into hydrogen, other automakers poured billions into battery electric propulsion technology. Even Toyota’s president Akio Toyoda admits that his company has been late to the game. Bloomberg was there to hear his statements. “Electrification is a major part of the once-a-century transformation taking place in the auto industry now,” said Toyoda. “In order to make ever-better cars, we need to collaborate with a specialized battery manufacturer.” It’s partnerships like these that point to Toyota picking up the pace and regaining the ground it lost to competitors, which is much needed given that Nissan is already on its second generation Leaf and more EVs are coming.
There might be a slight conflict of untested given that Panasonic also teamed with Tesla to supply batteries and build the nevada Gigafactory but hey, no one said this was going to go smoothly.