Toyota announced today what it referred to as a “breakthrough” in battery research and development that will “lead to longer battery life and longer driving range for vehicles using lithium-ion batteries”,  according to a press release sent out by the Japanese automaker

The company claims it will enable “up to 15 percent greater range” for battery-powered electric vehicles.

Considering li-ion batteries have been improving incrementally by 5 to 8 percent every year for roughly the past 2 decades, it’s not the most exciting announcement ever.

But the “breakthrough” itself is about a way to observe the electrolyte in a li-ion battery when it charge and discharge. Toyota believes that through this new way to observe the battery cell, it will be able to improve the capacity:

“By using this method, it is possible to observe in real-time, the deviation of Li-ions-one of the causes of deterioration in the performance of Li-ion batteries. Toyota believes that this will provide essential guidelines for R&D that aims to improve the performance and durability of batteries, which would lead to longer battery life, as well as longer driving ranges for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs) and electric vehicles (EVs).”

The company released a few graphics with the press release:

Hisao Yamashige, a battery technology researcher at Toyota, told the press during media briefing in Tokyo on Thursday (via Reuters):

“Lithium-ion battery is a key technology for electrifying cars, and there is a clear need, going forward, for improving this technology and its performance even more,”

Last week, Toyota announced that it created an in-house electric car development group. Unfortunately, it also confirmed that it only put 4 engineers on the team so far.

They are tasked with bringing long-range electric vehicles to market by 2020. At least, everything points to Toyota finally walking away from fuel cell hydrogen, which evidently isn’t going anywhere, and investing more into battery-powered electric vehicles.

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