By on July 25, 2017

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota, the company that came out with the Prius in the 1990s and decided it had perfected the electric car, may be looking regain its EV advantage by 2022. It’s not something you’d expect to hear, considering Japan’s largest automaker has lagged behind in terms of competitive electric development for the last few years.

While its hybrid program got the drop on the competition, it subsequently favored hydrogen fuel cells over purely electric vehicles as the next automotive epoch — creating a bit of an industrial dinosaur.

Fortunately, Toyota has no shortage of muscles to flex. Once news broke that Toyota was earnestly considering electric R&D, everyone speculated it would be competitive at roughly the same time as other automakers. Not so. On Tuesday, Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbun reported Toyota has quietly upped its game to surpass them. 

Earlier this year, Toyota filed a patent for solid-state lithium battery technology. While that isn’t noteworthy in itself, as numerous automakers have done the same, Reuters cited Chunichi Shimbun as claiming Toyota is working on bringing the technology to a long-range electric car in 2022 — several years earlier than most companies’ best estimates.

The advantages of solid-state batteries are numerous. It’s assumed they possess an energy density ideal for BEVs, likely offering greater range than what’s currently available. They also pose almost no fire risk, provide a longer lifespan, and can charge extremely quickly. While the Japanese report did not reference its sources, it alleged Toyota’s phantom model would achieve a complete charge “within minutes.”

Toyota’s new electric car is would be built on an entirely new platform for Japanese production in 2022 — which is, interestingly enough, right around the time the next Prius will be due.

Assuming Toyota comes out with a solid-state BEV before its rivals, it would have a huge advantage on the market. However, cost is unlikely to be among them. At present, the batteries are extremely expensive to produce. Toyota would not only have to hone the technology for cars but also find a way to construct, or source, the units without going bankrupt.

“There’s a pretty long distance between the lab bench and manufacturing,” said CLSA analyst Christopher Richter. “2022 is ages away, and a lot can change in the meantime.”

Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi told Reuters the automaker was unwilling to comment on specific product plans but added that it aimed to commercialize solid-state batteries by the early 2020s.

[Image: Toyota]

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16 Comments on “Toyota Planning Long-range EV Using Solid-state Batteries by 2022...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Perfect timing for this announcement, because the next battery breakthrough is always 5 years away.

    “Toyota would not only have to hone the technology for cars but also find a way to construct, or source, the units without going bankrupt.” << So true.

    After 3 years of continuous work, the Gigafactory is just beginning to squeeze out some batteries. I guess this means Toyota will break ground on their solid state Gigafactory in 2019?

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Don’t get too excited over the “charge extremely quickly” part. To recharge at a rate equivalent to filling a gas tank would take about a 6MW power supply, requiring in turn massively large cables and connectors.

    You can see what the 2MW cables/connectors used for cruise ships look like here: https://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vDGons0-fq4/TK1CjkWu8OI/AAAAAAAADao/gCbFtX7oKAA/s1600/Princess_plug2.jpg

    It’s not just the battery that limits the rate of charge.

    • 0 avatar
      stingray65

      Yes I can see something like that being used to recharge a Leaf or Tesla – the hatchback door can be repurposed as the cover the plug receptacle.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      Fat cables are needed only to conduct high current. You can transmit high power by using high voltage instead of high current. That lets you get away with thin, well insulated cables.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        The new 400 kW charging stations are using 800v and 1000v systems. Still, the 6 megawatt number is accurate, although my calculations show that would take a gas pump at the US max of 10 gallons per minute and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that personally.

        • 0 avatar
          addm

          You dont need gasoline equivalent charge rate. Going same distance in an electric car require 1/3rd of the energy. Especially relevant during charging or filling

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @addm: I used the 4-mile per kW consumption rate that I get in my Leaf vs. a 40 mpg ICE car and a 10 gallon per minute rate fill rate – although I don’t remember gas fill rates being that fast in the real world.

            The biggest factor in the electric is that it’s an unattended fill. You don’t have to be standing there squeezing a handle to pump. For many of us, we can even charge at home so stopping someplace to fuel is no longer part of our routine.

            Gas stations are already starting to disappear and as more plugins take to the roads, that trend will accelerate. ICE owners will get introduced to the concept of range anxiety in a few more years. In ten years, it might take you 5 minutes to fill your tank, but you’re going to have to hunt for a place to fuel and the lines might be a bit longer. And let’s see what happens to prices when some guy has the only gas station in an area.

            https://goo.gl/TBr1j7

          • 0 avatar
            gass-man

            @MCS – Gas stations are disappearing because of ever-increasing government regulations making them very costly to build and operate. Not because of electric or hybrid cars. Corporate consolidation plays a lesser role too.

  • avatar
    brandloyalty

    Replacing a metal/fluid electrolyte could be done quickly.

  • avatar
    TW5

    “2022 is ages away”

    It’s one vehicle model cycle from now, Mr. Richter. It’s incredibly soon, and unless someone has something better in the pipeline, it will not be released by 2022.

    Anyway, the real gem of this technology is rapid charge because charge time is the real cause of range anxiety, not limited range. If a car could be recharged in 60 seconds, few people would care if it only had a 100mile range.

    However, charge times are also affected by the recharging infrastructure. I do not foresee rapid charging stations on every street corner by 2022 so this will affect Toyota’s plans, regardless of how good solid state technology is.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    TTAC: “The advantages of solid-state batteries are numerous. It’s assumed they possess an energy density ideal for BEVs, likely offering greater range than what’s currently available. They also pose almost no fire risk, provide a longer lifespan, and can charge extremely quickly. While the Japanese report did not reference its sources, it alleged Toyota’s phantom model would achieve a complete charge “within minutes.””

    And the disadvantages are?
    C’mon, TTAC, lets have some balanced journalism here. It’s your job.

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