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What We Do

We’re focused on finding the most impactful strategies to reach Toyota’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Technology is just one important piece of the puzzle. As a company that operates worldwide, it is critical to consider how new and existing technologies interact with society, economics, policy, and other industries.

Our team identifies key decarbonization challenges and analyzes diverse carbon neutrality strategies to provide actionable insight.

Our solutions leverage multi-disciplinary energy systems models incorporating economic, social, and political forces.

Our customers are decision-makers focused on taking action today amid an uncertain global energy transition.

The future is uncertain, but we act with urgency today to reduce CO2. We can only ensure we make the most informed decisions supported by unbiased data. 

The Challenges

Battery electric vehicles are a core solution to eliminate vehicle emissions. However, as a global company that operates across the mobility sector, Toyota must solve many additional challenges to reach zero carbon emissions.

We must eliminate emissions across the entire mobility sector by providing solutions for all our global customers across all demographics. In doing so, we’ll ensure our input energy sources are clean versus simply shifting emissions and address emissions spanning the entire value chain, from sourcing materials through recycling at the vehicle's end of life.

Reaching zero emissions requires technological innovation, but that alone is insufficient. Energy technologies are an integral part of our society. To find viable pathways to carbon neutrality, we must consider how technology interacts with government policy, economics, human behavior, and other industries.

We can think of Toyota’s company-wide 2050 carbon-neutral goal with an analogy of climbing a mountain. How do we reach the apex? As we pursue diverse approaches, many paths will lead to fruitless ends. We may find solutions that are compelling from one perspective but would ultimately hit significant technological barriers that are unsolvable. Another path may have great technologies, but the system economics won’t work. We can’t definitively know which paths will be unsuccessful and why, but the likelihood of success increases when the focus is on more than one direction.

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Carbon Neutral Strategy Projects

Our research projects span the spectrum from:

  • Responding to and addressing critical, near-term challenges
  • Proactively identifying areas that we expect will pose challenges in the future 
  • Determining insights that may inform future solutions 

Necessary materials, such as lithium, nickel, and graphite, are essential for the growth of electrified vehicles. As consumer preference and policy incentives have increased demand, there’s uncertainty about how supply, and thus prices, will evolve. In light of this, TRI is collaborating (with NREL) to determine the mix of vehicle powertrains, such as hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery electric vehicles, that will minimize CO2 emissions given various scenarios of critical material supply. This project considers the volume and price of essential materials and the resulting consumer preference.

TRI is also collaborating (with CMU) to evaluate the powertrain with the lowest emissions in each state, including CO2 and criteria pollutants. Ongoing collaborations (with ICF) aim to investigate the role that electrified vehicles can play through smart charging and vehicle-to-grid in integrating more renewables to reduce emissions and costs for customers. We’re working with global partners to investigate methods to improve the circularity of our products, ensuring that vehicles are designed for simple disassembly with easily recyclable materials. This can be accomplished using processes that reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions.

Public charging infrastructure must be more widespread, reliable, and affordable to maximize the value of vehicle-grid interaction and ensure that everyone has access to own and operate electrified vehicles. TRI is collaborating (with NREL and MIT) to investigate the quantity and type of charging infrastructure required to support electrified vehicle deployment and how infrastructure requirements depend on vehicle specifications.

Toyota is excited about the potential of electrification and hydrogen to achieve our carbon neutrality goals. TRI has partnered with organizations (such as Energy Futures Initiative) to investigate the impact of policies on hydrogen prices and demand and develop an action plan for growing the hydrogen economy.

Research Collaborations

In addition to conducting research in-house, our team collaborates with universities, national labs, research firms, and start-ups to develop system modeling tools and multi-disciplinary analyses of decarbonization pathways. With diverse research partners, we leverage each organization's unique expertise and strengths to address a wide breadth of challenges on short- to long-term timescales. This includes quick turnaround analysis on the interdependency of critical material supply and demand on federal and international policy incentives and regulation. On the proactive side, Toyota is committed to providing clean mobility for all. This motivates our analysis of clean transportation access and investigating a portfolio of solutions to improve access for all.

As the mobility sector undergoes rapid transformation and is interdependent on multiple sectors, there is value in frequently convening multidisciplinary experts to scope and analyze solutions to our most critical challenges to decarbonization. TRI plays this convening role and actively participates in research consortia organized by universities, including the MIT Energy Initiative and the Stanford Hydrogen Initiative.