Toyota says it has developed a new battery for electric cars that can give a 600 mile range and cost up to 90 per cent less than current battery technology.
Many think our stance on electric cars is Luddite. But it’s not. In fact, if anything, it’s quite the opposite.
The origins of Luddite are from the cotton mill workers in the early 19th century who took to destroying machinery they perceived was destroying their jobs. The ‘Luddite’ bit comes from the fictitious name they used to sign their leaflets protesting that modern machinery was stealing their jobs – Ned Ludd. But enough of social history.
So being Luddite is to be against progress, which we certainly are not. But we are against second-rate, antiquated technology being foisted – at silly prices – on car buyers looking to find a better way to propel their car. And that’s what the electric car currently offers.
If the electric car could offer all that an ICE car can, and at the same time use energy sources that are less political and less environmentally contentious, we’d be all for it. But they don’t. The cost is awful and the range is woeful.
A big part of the problem is that battery technology is not up to the task and, although there have been improvements, they are not exactly startling. But Toyota say they have this cracked.
Toyota say they have developed a solid-state battery in collaboration with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization which is less susceptible to cold, can hold enough charge for a 1000km range and will cost as much as 90 per cent less to produce. But not until 2020.
The fact this battery is a decade away tends to suggest it’s theoretical in nature rather than a product per se. But it’s good news and could, if an awful lot more falls in to place, see EVs becoming a viable mode of transport other than for short commuter trips in urban areas.
But we will need to see charging time cut to a few minutes instead of several hours, a massive investment in electricity generation (which probably means nuclear power stations) and a guarantee that the batteries won’t lose the ability to hold full charge the more they’re recharged.
Even if all that happens – and it’s a big ‘if’ – don’t run away with the idea that EV motoring will be cheap. Because as soon as EVs are a viable alternative to an ICE car – and the take-up rate is significant - electricity for cars will be taxed at the same rates as petrol and diesel are now.
And by the time 2020 comes around and Toyota has launched its ‘Super Battery’ we will probably see hydrogen fuel cell cars being economic and viable and using the most abundant element in the universe for propulsion.
Which, short of cold fusion proving a reality, is really the only sensible way to go.