Tony O'Kane | Aug 19, 2009

TOYOTA HAS ANNOUNCED the development of revolutionary new lithium-ion battery technology, which enables enormous gains in power storage and, ultimately, increased range for electric and hybrid vehicles.

The new battery tech was developed in partnership with Japan's Tohoku University and reportedly uses single crystals of lithium cobalt oxide to create its prodigious capacity.

Toyota is keeping the precise details of its new technology close to its chest for the time being, but Japan's Nikkei newspaper estimates that the new batteries could extend the range of an electric vehicle almost tenfold.

EV charging plug

Current battery technology limits the range of most electric vehicles to around 160 kilometres - enough for the daily commute, but a woefully inadequate range for any kind of long-haul driving.

If Nikkei's estimate is on the money, a ten-fold increse in range means Toyota's next-generation hybrids and EVs could easily travel between Melbourne and Sydney on a single charge.

The refinements do not end with increased range. The size and weight of Toyota's new high-tech battery is reportedly much less than current lithium-ion batteries, which would produce even greater benefits for performance, packaging and range.

However, the new battery technology is still is in its infancy and Toyota has no plans to rush it into volume production.

If the Japanese automaker does decide to put it into a production car, don't expect it to arrive on the scene until sometime after 2015.

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