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Daikin develops refrigerant for EVs it says lifts range by 50%

Move into auto market is first for Japan's top maker of air conditioners

Daikin plans to enter the automotive market with its new refrigerant, expecting changes to the supply chain with the shift to electric vehicles. (Source photos by AP and Reuters) 

TOKYO -- Daikin Industries, Japan's top air conditioner maker, has developed a refrigerant for electric vehicles that can extend their range by up to 50%, Nikkei has learned. The company plans to commercialize the product by 2025.

Air conditioners use the heat generated by compressing the refrigerant to heat and cool the air inside the car. Daikin's new refrigerant has a boiling point of about minus 40 C, 10 to 15 degrees lower than the conventional product. That reduces the power required for compression.

Daikin believes that in an EV with the air conditioner running and operating in an urban area of Japan, a car with a range of 200 km on a full charge could travel an additional 100 km with the new refrigerant.

At present, the most common refrigerant for use in EV air conditioners is a product jointly developed by U.S. based Honeywell and Chemours. It costs around 30,000 yen ($270) per vehicle.

Daikin says it will "consider the price of the new refrigerant while looking at market prices." Increasing battery capacity enough to give an EV 100 km of additional range cost hundreds of thousands of yen (thousands of dollars), so automakers may find the new refrigerant attractive even at twice the current price.

The company has already developed the product, and U.S. industry group SAE International will verify its performance and safety under operating conditions.

Daikin is the world's largest air conditioner manufacturer by sales and the leading producer of refrigerant. But it is not currently in the automotive market. The company has decided to enter the market with its new technology, anticipating that the supply chain will change dramatically with the shift to EVs.

Global production of EVs is expected to rise to 11.84 million units by 2025, 5.3 times higher than in 2020, according to IHS Markit.

To extend the range of EVs, Toyota Motor and Panasonic are developing a solid-state battery with greater capacity than existing lithium-ion batteries. Daikin is racing to commercialize its new refrigerant as another way to improve EV performance.

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