The issue of limited range has been an impediment to EV sales since before such vehicles even went on sale. But as The Truth About Cars now reports, Toyota just might have the answer to this problem. The first steps have been taken toward making a battery which uses sodium-ion compound as the positive electrode. This produces 30 percent more voltage than a lithium-ion battery, and it’s estimated that it could at least double the range of electric cars. It is even estimated that range to extend to 1,000 km (620 miles) with sodium batteries.
Toyota hasn’t said what we can expect for recharge times on these batteries, and a 600-mile range would be something of a mixed blessing if it also needed two days to recharge. But improvements are being made in the area of recharging as well, and sine Toyota has said that they don’t expect the sodium batteries to be ready until 2020, it’s still a bit early to say what conditions will be like when it comes time to actually charge the batteries. One thing we do know will get better along with range is price. Sodium is one of the most abundant elements on earth, and Toyota says the new batteries would almost surely be cheaper than the lithium-ion batteries we currently use.
This announcement came as a bit of a shock, as it was just a couple of months ago that Toyota announced they would be scaling back on EV building and that the technology just wasn’t ready for full-scale implementation. We can only assume that this research is being conducted as part of Toyota’s desire to remain the world leader in hybrids.
Whatever their motivation, we’re marking off 2020 on our calendars. It should be fascinating to see how this impacts the market and even whether the technology will spread to other devices which use batteries as well.