May 18, 2007

New Toyota cars will be 100% hybrid in 2020

Toyota plans to go 100% hybrid by 2020 Takimoto also made the bold claim that by 2020, hybrids will be the standard drivetrain and account for “100 percent” of Toyota’s cars as they would be no more expensive to produce than a conventional vehicle.
Masatami Takimoto, who said cost cutting on the electric motor, battery and inverter were all showing positive results and by the time Toyota’s sales goal of one million hybrids annually is reached, it “expect margins to be equal to gasoline cars”.

Resource investor discusses the impact of a large shift to hybrids using the likely materials of lithium-ion and cobalt

In 2006, Toyota made a record-setting 9.3 million vehicles including a little more than 300,000 Priuses. All other manufacturers together made enough hybrids so that the total produced globally was around 500,000. Last year, the world’s production of new lithium for all uses was in balance with demand. If we assume that in 2020 Toyota, alone, will produce 12 million vehicles and that all of them will be powered by a hybrid system using a lithium-ion technology battery pack, and, if we assume that those battery packs each contain, for argument’s sake, 20 pounds of lithium, then Toyota alone in 2020 will require around 240 million pounds of lithium annually or 120,000 tonnes per year. In addition each lithium-ion battery pack, if it were built today, would need a few pounds of cobalt. Even one pound per car or truck will require 6,000 tonnes per year just for Toyota’s production in 2020.

The world’s largest producer of lithium today is Chile’s SQM [NYSE:SQM]. Also there’s MetallGesellschaft's (MG) American subsidiary Foote Mineral (or Cyprus-Foote Mineral) in Nevada.

Today’s entire world production used primarily for chemical use, not batteries, would only be fraction, perhaps as large as third, of just Toyota’s needs under their announcement for 2020. There is no way that the world’s other car companies could allow Toyota to be the sole producer of high performance hybrid vehicles, so we should multiply the needs of the global OEM automotive industry in 2020, under this scenario, by around 8.

That means if all of the world’s OEM automotive manufacturers were to begin now and to, as Toyota has announced, ramp up their changeover from pure internal combustion engine power trains to hybrids by 2020 the world would need an additional amount of lithium each year beginning around 2012 of as much as is being today produced annually! Under this scenario the world would run out of known reserves in 2020. We would have used up all of the world’s recoverable lithium

So the battery technology must continue to be improved and made more efficient with things like virus-batteries for nanostructured batteries. or carbon nanotube ultracapacitors

If Toyota delivers and the other car makers follow then most of world's production of cars could be hybrid or even plug-in hybrid in 2020. By 2035-2040 most of the worlds cars could be converted as the older cars are retired. One important issue will be the drivetrain of the new $2000-5000 cars being made in China and India. I believe that those cheap cars will also be converted to high efficiency since the owners would not be able to afford high operating costs.

Current reserve estimates are 6.2 million tons of lithium, with about half located in Bolivia

Alternative batteries are sodium nickel chloride and zinc-air, both of which offer comparable or greater energy density than lithium without the attendant safety or resource depletion issues. After iron, aluminum and copper, zinc is the most commonly used metal by modern society. A 2005 USGS estimate placed American zinc reserves a 30,000,000 metric tons and world reserves, excluding the US, at 220 million metric tons.

Here is an 8 page pdf of the 2005 US geological survey report on Lithium