Toyota recently announced that it will expand its current lineup by releasing ten new battery-electric models by 2026, which would amount to 1.5 million vehicles of annual sales. Toyota also said that this next-generation of BEVs will be “entirely different from those of today — BEVs created by carmakers in 2026. This new generation of BEVs will double driving range by using batteries with far greater efficiency, while also offering designs and driving performance to set hearts racing.”
Toyota will continue to develop plugless hybrids, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and also plug-in hybrids. While there hasn’t been any significant traction globally when it comes to passenger vehicles powered by hydrogen, plug-in hybrids have had significant uptake in some markets, but full battery-electric vehicles have emerged as the clear winner. Technological advancements in the battery storage sector have led to the development of pure battery-electric vehicles that have more range now compared a lot of BEVs from the last decade.
These developments ,coupled with growth in the electric vehicle charging infrastructure sector, means that range anxiety is less of an issue now in a lot the traditional large auto markets. This has prompted calls in a lot of forums for automakers to focus more on full BEVs and less on plug-in hybrids. Once viewed as part of the transition process to wide scale full BEV adoption, plug-in hybrids, especially those with an all-electric range less than 50km, now look like an unnecessary complication.
BYD, however, has been developing longer range BEVs as part of its “Super Hybrid” DM-I and DM-p series of models. Some of the DM-i models have Blade battery packs of about 37.6 kWh (which is close to a 40 kWh Nissan Leaf pack) complementing the ICE component. BYD says “the electric-based DM-i super hybrid cars are powered by an electric motor in 90% of driving conditions, for an experience that is infinitely close to pure electric vehicles. The system brings fuel consumption down to 3.8L/100km, and the combined fuel and electric cruising range exceeds 1,200 km.” Plug-in hybrid models make up just over 50% of BYD’s sales.
Toyota looks like it now wants to follow in this industry of “long range” plug-in vehicles. Last week, Toyota announced that it is developing next generation plug-in hybrids with an all-electric driving range beyond 200 km. Toyota says this will be achieved “by increasing battery efficiency to extend the range, we will reposition PHEVs as “the practical BEV” and will work harder on developing this as another BEV option.”
The newly introduced Prius has a 13.6kWh battery pack and Toyota says that it has a driving distance of 87 km with 19-inch tires and 105 km with 17-inch tires in electric mode, so the next gen PHEVs will see a big an improvement from this current Prius.
There could be case for these longer range plug-in hybrid vehicles, especially in developing countries where the charging infrastructure is not yet widespread. Home charging of these types of 37.6kWh plug-in hybrids would be enough for daily needs, but for longer highway trips, plug-in hybrids could be quite useful as well. In most African countries, for example, there aren’t many DC fast charging stations yet on the major highways. Millions of dollars are needed ASAP to enable investment into such charging infrastructure. In the meantime, these DM-I type vehicles could be part of the mix along with full BEV models. The age of “short range” plug-in hybrids and plugless hybrids could be bypassed entirely in developing markets.
Images courtesy of Toyota.
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