Battery technology for electric vehicles is progressing at an increasingly fast pace, with several companies and academic institutions having announced major breakthroughs in the past year.
While not an EV leader (it currently prefers to focus on hybrids), Toyota plans to launch the first working prototype of a vehicle powered by a solid-state battery in 2021, according to Japanese newspaper Nikkei. A production model is even slated to go on sale sometime in the early 2020s.
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In case you don’t know, solid-state batteries are more compact and boast more energy density than traditional lithium-ion batteries. In other words, because they use a solid electrolyte, they require less physical space to produce the same amount of energy. They are also more stable and safer (less prone to fire when damaged) while having the ability to charge extremely fast—around 10 minutes for a full charge.
Most importantly, range would basically double—up to an estimated 1,000 kilometres—allowing electric vehicles to become much more attractive propositions for drivers.
Since solid-state battery production is more complex, not to mention way more expensive, the same Nikkei report says the Japanese government is considering spending part of a new $25 billion decarbonization fund to build a production infrastructure in the country.
Toyota, which owns over 1,000 patents related to the technology, has signed deals with mining giant Mitsui Kinzoku, petrol company Idemitsu Kosan, and Sumitomo Chemical for research. There’s a chance the automaker will use the media attention provided by the Tokyo Olympic Games (which were postponed until next summer due to COVID-19) to make the reveal. Or it could happen sooner.