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Toyota Close to Solid-State Battery Breakthrough; Next-Gen Electric Vehicle Set for 2022

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Lithium-ion battery

A traditional lithium-ion car a battery

According to reports in The Wall Street Journal and Japan’s Chunichi Shimbun, Toyota is close to a technological breakthrough in electric car batteries. The automaker is purportedly in the “production engineering” stage of building a new solid-state battery that would be used in an all-new 2022 model.

Some of the biggest obstacles in the way of widespread adoption of electric cars include their limited range and long recharging times. For Toyota, the solution to this dilemma had seemed to be the hydrogen fuel cell technology featured in the Mirai FCV, but it’s been a tough task to sell the new tech to consumers already unconvinced by electrified powertrains, especially given the lacking infrastructure. Although regular hybrid and electric car sales are on the rise, adoption still remains quite low.

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Thus, Toyota’s new solid-state technology could signal the start of a new era of electrified vehicles, as they provide numerous advantages over the lithium-ion batteries our vehicles currently use: they can withstand a higher range of temperatures, reducing the risk of fire and of freezing, improving not just safety but also overall performance; they can be made smaller and lighter, allowing for more compact and flexible packaging; and, according to Shimbun, Toyota’s battery will be capable of charging in just a few minutes while offering long range.

The newspaper reports that others automakers are also developing solid-state batteries for next-generation electric cars. In the past, engineering such batteries at an attractive price point for mass production was a challenge, but it seems that may no longer be the case. Should Toyota successfully launch a new vehicle featuring the technology and before anyone else, it will put the Japanese automaker far ahead of the electric vehicle game in which it has so far lagged behind.

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 Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Chunichi Shimbun via Reuters