Are Toyota Solid State Batteries Set to Dominate the EV World or are they Too Late?
Toyota solid state batteries were recently announced to charge electric vehicles (EVs) in under 10 minutes. The company says that the battery is also more durable and safer than current lithium-ion batteries.
Toyota is the biggest car manufacturer in the world. In 2022, Toyota sold 10.5 million vehicles worldwide, making it the world’s largest car company. But their lack of EV offerings means it is playing catch up. Some experts believe this is a do-or-die situation for the company.
Toyota must make big moves now or it will lose market share, all due to the lack of electric vehicles in its lineup. The global EV market is growing rapidly, and despite its size, Toyota is currently a relatively small player. In 2022, Toyota only sold about 200,000 EVs worldwide, while Tesla sold almost a million.
Toyota Backed the Wrong Pony
Despite its competitors investing in battery technology, Toyota focussed on automotive hydrogen fuel cell technology. The company launched its first hydrogen car, the Toyota Mirai, in 2014. However, the Mirai was a commercial failure. In 2022, only about 10,000 Mirais were sold worldwide.
Toyota was unable to persuade buyers to buy hydrogen vehicles because EVs are cheap, readily available and by their very essence, are far more reliable than fossil fuel powered vehicles. The charging infrastructure for EVs is everywhere; you can even plug them in at home and have a full battery by morning. This, compared to the costly and specialized refuelling infrastructure for hydrogen cars, makes the idea of hydrogen a non-starter for most consumers.
However, with its recent announcement of Toyota solid state batteries, the company is investing heavily in battery technology and other EV-related areas. The company must act quickly to stay competitive in the EV market.
A (Much) Better Battery
Toyota solid state batteries use a solid instead of a liquid electrolyte. This makes them more stable and safer than lithium-ion batteries, which can be flammable. Toyota solid state batteries also have a higher energy density, meaning they can store more energy in a smaller space.
Manufacturing is easier as well, Toyota solid state batteries are extruded instead of assembled, meaning that they require far less in the way of production process to manufacture. Because they are extruded, some say they may be formed into shapes that are not possible with traditional battery assemblies.
Toyota solid state batteries can be charged in an EV from 10% to 80% in just 10 minutes. This is significantly faster than the current charging times for most EVs, which can take hours to fully charge. The company also says that Toyota solid state batteries have a lifespan of up to 10,000 cycles, which is much longer than the lifespan of most lithium-ion batteries.
Toyota plans to start mass-producing the new solid-state batteries in 2025. The company says that it will initially use the batteries in its high-end EVs, but it plans to make them available in more affordable models.
As of June 2023, Toyota has not announced specific locations for its solid state battery plants. However, the company has said that it plans to build the plants in close proximity to its existing manufacturing facilities. This will help to reduce the cost of transporting the batteries to its assembly plants. In 2020, the company announced a joint venture with Panasonic to develop solid state batteries for electric vehicles. The joint venture, called Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, is based in Japan.
Toyota is also working with Solid Power, a U.S. company that is developing solid state battery technology. In 2021, Toyota invested $100 million in Solid Power. The company plans to build a pilot plant for solid state batteries in Colorado in 2023.
Toyota is not the only automaker that is developing solid state battery technology. Other automakers that are working on solid state batteries include BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen.
The development of Toyota solid state batteries is a breakthrough for the EV industry. If Toyota can mass-produce the batteries at a cost-effective price, it could help to make EVs more popular and accessible. This could lead to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a cleaner environment.