By Yoko Kubota
TOKYO Jan 24 Toyota Motor Corp and BMW
AG will jointly research a lithium-air battery
expected to be more powerful than the lithium-ion batteries used
in many hybrid and electric vehicles, the two firms said.
The two companies will also work on a fuel cell vehicle
system, which includes a hydrogen tank and motor, by 2020, they
said on Thursday.
The strengthening of the partnership between Toyota, the
world's best-selling automaker, and BMW, the largest premium
carmaker, will allow them to cut development costs as
competition intensifies globally.
"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 development of the
bestselling Prius hybrid in the late 1990s.
"By bringing together the wisdom of two companies, we can
aim to make FCVs more popular much quicker," he told a news
conference with BMW at Nagoya, central Japan.
Toyota said it wanted to introduce a new fuel cell vehicle
around 2020 using the jointly developed technology, while BMW
said a launch date had not been decided. Toyota aims to start
selling a fuel cell sedan by around 2015.
The two companies reiterated that they had no plans for a
Toyota uses lithium-ion batteries in its Prius plug-in
hybrid, some Prius v, and the eQ electric car.
A lithium-air battery has its anode filled with lithium, and
cathode with air. Theoretically, the battery can generate and
store more electricity than the existing lithium-ion battery.
The technology is being studied by researchers including IBM
, which is working to develop a lithium-air battery that
will let electric vehicles run 500 miles on one charge.
Toyota and BMW also said they would work on a shared
platform and technology for a mid-sized sports car, and develop
technologies to make cars lighter and thus more fuel-efficient.
Eager to strengthen its diesel engine line-up in a sagging
European market, Toyota agreed in 2011 to collaborate with BMW
on lithium-ion battery research in exchange for a steady supply
of BMW-made diesel engines starting in 2014.
BMW, which needs to cut carbon emissions of its new car
fleet by roughly a third by 2020, agreed with Toyota in 2012 to
work on fuel cells and electrified powertrains too.
Toyota's Uchiyamada said they wanted to decide as soon as
possible on how to collaborate on the electrified powertrains.