Section 5. Wartime Research and Production

Item 1. Establishment of the Battery Research Laboratory and the Toyoda Physical and Chemical Research Institute

In accordance with Sakichi's final wishes, Kiichiro Toyoda undertook research and development on secondary batteries.

In 1914, Sakichi Toyoda donated prize money to the Imperial Institute of Invention and Innovation for invention of a secondary battery, and in August 1935, the Institute conducted the Third Secondary Battery Invention Contest based on the Ideal Battery Million Yen Contest proposed by Sakichi. The title of the prize was "invention of a non-lead-acid battery with low mass per 1 kilowatt capacity and collision durability". The deadline for submissions was November 4, 1936, and the first prize was 5,000 yen. The first and second contests resulted in considerable progress in lead-acid batteries, and as a result, the third contest sought entries of non-lead-acid batteries.1

Based on these research and development results, following the creation of the Shibaura Laboratory, the Battery Research Laboratory was established in 1939 and research on batteries for electric vehicles was commenced. The Center acquired patent rights for the lead storage battery2 invented by Dr. Daizo Nukiyama3, Takeo Chiku4, and Kyosuke Kinoshita from the Imperial Institute of Invention and Innovation and works on manufacturing electric vehicle storage batteries began at the Tokyo Shibaura Plant.5 The research activities of the Center were taken over by the Toyota Physical and Chemical Research Institute, which sought to improve the performance of electric vehicle storage batteries through research and production.

In September 1940, a three-story building and complete facilities used by the Battery Research Laboratory were provided and the Toyota Physical and Chemical Research Institute was established. The purpose of establishing the Institute was to promote and develop science and technology unique to Japan and to contribute to the advancement of scholarship and industry. The Institute achieved many significant research results including development of a technique for manufacturing large crystals of Rochelle salt, storage batteries, and a direction finder, and patents were attained and commercial products released with respect to some of them. In the post-war period, however, independent research activities had to be curtailed because of inflation.

Kiichiro believed practical technology and academic research were deeply intertwined and that technology would advance. This attitude was handed down and led to the establishment of Toyota Central Research & Development Laboratories, Inc. (November 3, 1960) and Genesis Research Institute, Inc. (June 11, 1996). Both of these organizations made significant contributions to the development of new technology.

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