New tech to boost battery life

Toyota Motor Corp has developed a new way of observing the movements of tiny particles in batteries used to power electric vehicles — an advance it says will help boost their cruise range by 10-15 percent.

Toyota engineer Hisao Yamashige explained to reporters yesterday at the Japanese automaker’s Tokyo office the complex method for tracking the lithium ions, which are tiny particles in lithium-ion batteries, also used in laptops and smartphones.

The ions’ movements, which are difficult to detect, are critical in determining the efficiency and power of a battery.

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Increasing cruise range is the biggest obstacle for electric vehicles, especially because charging stations aren’t as common as gas stations.

Toyota is more bullish about fuel-cell vehicles, which are costly but can deliver the same cruise range as gas engines.

Yamashige said there is no change to that overall company policy.

Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, has no pure electric vehicles in its line-up since production of its electric iQ subcompact and other earlier models were discontinued after low sales.

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