Toyota battles Tesla, Ford with own residential energy storage battery

Another assault in the battery market as automakers race to translate EV tech to the home

Japanese automaker Toyota has become the latest car company to repurpose its electric vehicle batteries for home energy storage. 

The O-Uchi Kyuden System, which is on presale now and will roll out in August in Japan only, mainly consists of a trunk-sized battery and two-way vehicle charger. O-Uchi Kyuden is also able to store power generated by solar panels. 

Toyota said the system uses proprietary technology from its vehicle batteries, and can scale electricity based on need, including using Toyota EVs to supply backup power in the event of an outage or other emergency. 

Toyota's new product puts it alongside other manufacturers, like Tesla, Ford, and Hyundai, who have built their own home energy batteries out of tech used in their vehicles. 

Tesla's Powerwall may be the most noticeable comparison: It too uses a big battery that lives outside and can charge Tesla EVs as well as supply power to a home from the grid or solar panels. 

Hyundai Home, which is due to launch this year, offers similar technology, like a backup battery and EV charging, and tries to set itself apart by offering a "concierge" service that customizes solar installations for each customer.

In addition to home energy storage products like those from Hyundai, Tesla, and Toyota, there's also Ford's F-150 Lightning, which is meant to operate as a home power supply in case of emergencies. The Lightning doesn't come with a home battery, and is instead meant to act as its own unit, with a 131kWh battery, far greater than the 8.7kWh of Toyota's or the 13.5kWh of the Powerwall+.

O-Uchi Kyuden has a leg up, though: While Tesla Powerwall can charge an EV, it doesn't do vehicle-to-grid (V2G), while the F-150 Lightning doesn't have a stationary battery – if it leaves, the power goes with it. Toyota's offers both, provided the vehicle connected to it has V2G capabilities, which Toyota's and Hyundai's upcoming vehicles do.

As electrification of vehicles and the power grid continues, concerns over waste won't go away, but will change: Tens of millions of EVs now on the roads will eventually reach end of life, and with them tens of millions of batteries with just enough reduced capacity from repeat charging cycles to make them unusable in new vehicles. 

Both Nissan and Volkswagen have launched EV battery recycling programs to address waste, and those programs could end up recycling old EV batteries right into homes as energy storage devices like Toyota's. 

The US Department of Energy's American-Made Solar Prize has invited researchers to compete for novel solar technology funding. One entry from Utah State University (USU) proposed technology that could turn retired EV batteries into home energy systems. "With solar energy, you don't have a mileage problem – you just need to provide enough energy storage," said USU researcher Hongjie Wang. ®

Other stories you might like

  • Toyota, Subaru recall EVs because tires might literally fall off
    Toyota says 'all of the hub bolts' can loosen even 'after low-mileage use'

    Toyota and Subaru are recalling several thousand electric vehicles that might spontaneously shed tires due to self-loosening hub bolts. 

    Toyota issued the recall last week for 2023 bZ4X all-electric SUVs, 2,700 of which are affected, the automaker said. Subaru is recalling all-electric Solterras, which were developed jointly with Toyota and have the same issue, Reuters reported.

    Japan's auto safety regulating body said "sharp turns and sudden braking could cause a hub bolt to loosen," Reuters said, though it's unknown if any actual accidents have been caused by the defect. In its recall notice, Toyota said "all of the hub bolts" can loosen "after low-mileage use," but said it was still investigating the cause of, and driving conditions that can lead to, the issue. 

    Continue reading
  • Toyota wants 'closed loop' EV batteries in its future cars
    Automaker wants to develop recycling, remanufacturing processes

    Toyota has ambitious plans for the future of its electric vehicles, and it's turning to a Tesla founder to make them happen.

    The North American arm of the Japanese automaker has partnered with Redwood Materials to help it develop a battery supply chain that collects, recycles, refurbishes, and remanufactures EV batteries and their materials. Redwood was founded by Tesla co-founder and former CTO JB Straubel.

    Redwood's work will start with testing and recycling Toyota batteries, spokesperson Alexis Georgeson said in a statement. "We will then expand into other areas including battery health screening and data management, remanufacturing, and battery material supply throughout North America."

    Continue reading
  • Totaled Tesla goes up in flames three weeks after crash
    A pit and 4,500 gallons of water were needed to put it out

    A totaled Tesla Model S burst into flames in a Sacramento junkyard earlier this month, causing a fire that took "a significant amount of time, water, and thinking outside the box to extinguish," firefighters said. 

    The vehicle was involved in a comparably unexplosive accident that sent it to the junkyard three weeks ago – it's unclear what caused the Tesla to explode nearly a month after being taken off the road. Like other electric vehicle fires, it was very difficult to extinguish.

    "Crews knocked the fire down, but the car kept re-igniting and off-gassing in the battery compartment," the department said on Instagram. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022