Toyota to unveil solid-state battery EV prototype next year
In the race for the first electric car with a solid-state battery, Toyota is in the lead. The Japanese giant plans to debut its first working prototype in 2021. According to a new report in the Nikkei, a production car is due to go on sale in the early 2020s.
The technology would usher in a new era in electric vehicles as solid-state batteries are more compact, charge faster, are safer, and have higher energy density than the traditional lithium-ion batteries that are currently widely used. They use a solid electrolyte instead of the liquid or gel polymer electrolytes contained in Li-ion units. That means they need less physical space to produce the same amount of energy and are less prone to fire if damaged.
It is estimated that a solid-state car can have a range of 1,000 kilometers and take 10 minutes to charge. Solid-state batteries degrade less over time and Toyota aims to maintain 90% of battery life over a 30-year life. Toyota tops solid-state battery patents and owns over 1,000 related to the technology.
However, there are still difficulties in manufacturing solid-state batteries. They require extremely dry conditions during production and the raw lithium required is a scarce resource. To accelerate the development of the technology, Nikkei said the Japanese government is considering spending a portion of a new decarbonization fund worth 2 trillion yen ($ 19.2 billion) to build infrastructure for solid-state battery production in the country. Industrial companies like Mitsui Kinzoku, the gasoline company Idemitsu Kosan and Sumitomo Chemical are preparing to manufacture the solid electrolytes.
Volkswagen says it will produce its own solid-state batteries by 2025, and Nissan expects a prototype solid-state battery prototype in 2028.
Toyota is developing the battery with Panasonic, a leader in battery technology, and had planned to reveal something during the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Despite the games being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toyota was slow to say when the battery prototypes would be shown publicly for the first time. Now it seems that it will be sometime in 2021.
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