By on January 10, 2022

While electrification has felt like the only thing automakers are willing to talk about anymore, CES 2022 provided yet another opportunity to see which companies are willing to make the biggest promises when pitted against each other. This encouraged plenty of manufacturers to issue reminders of their existing EV timetables, though we’d be lying if we expected any company to adhere to them all that closely.

Then there’s Toyota. Despite being the largest automaker on the planet by volume, the Japanese company is famous for hedging its bets and not being all that secretive about it. When other manufacturers were vowing swift electrification at all costs, Toyota said they would need to continue producing hybrids if they were to realistically serve the public. But the business is still developing battery tech, with a vested interest in selling it off to rival manufacturers who are more willing to run with BEVs exclusively. It’s also been developing solid-state batteries, which it has confirmed are on track for delivery by 2025.

During CES, Toyota announced it was planning on launching a passenger vehicle equipped with solid-state hardware. We’d heard about it before. The automaker announced a bipolar nickel-metal hydride battery would eventually be thrown into the Japanese-market Toyota Aqua (our Prius C) in the fall. Critics have argued that the in-development power cell relies too much on old technology, while the manufacturer has asserted that incremental improvements toward existing technologies simply make more sense.

The issue came up again during a discussion between the head of the Toyota Research Institute, Gill Pratt, and Autoline at CES 2022. Pratt indicated that the brand was still on schedule to release its first solid-state units prior to 2025, noting that the first examples would likely be going into a hybrid vehicle.

Toyota believes that sticking with internal combustion will make it easier to commercialize solid-state batteries and keep vehicles at a price point that’s competitive with all-electric vehicles. While this seemed to surprise many in the automotive press, I’ve heard more engineers from Toyota openly discuss the present-day limitations of battery-electric vehicles than any other manufacturer. They’re always concerned with energy density, the additional weight of battery packs, and how that might affect pricing and range. The company is also famously risk-averse, placing a strong emphasis on long-term durability, and that’s something Pratt was inclined to address during the interview.

He said that Toyota’s President, Akio Toyota, opted to leak far more details about its electrification goals ahead of the holidays than anybody really expected. But claims that the automaker was going to be focused exclusively on electrification lacked context. Toyota had indeed kept pace to develop a working solid-state prototype in 2021 and still plans to sell an automobile equipped with a production unit within the next three years. However, it would be a hybrid, not a pure electric vehicle.

“We’re going to start by using them in hybrid vehicles and the reason for that is because the battery pack will be smaller, so it’s a little less sensitive to costs,” Pratt explained. “But also the amount of cycling that goes on in a hybrid vehicle for the battery is actually a tougher test. So we want to start by putting them in vehicles where we believe they’ll there both the most well suited, in terms of lifetime, but also will exercise them sufficiently — so that as costs continue to go down we can roll them out in the future in BEVs.”

“One of the issues people have talked a lot about in terms of BEVs not being a quite a drop-in substitute for a gasoline powered car is refueling time. One of the great hopes of solid-state batteries is not only greater energy density and, potentially in the future, longer lifetime and lower cost. But also the potential to charge them must faster.”

Pratt continued by outlining how modern charging stations aren’t yet able to output the kind of energy that would make any purely electric vehicle (solid-state or otherwise) capable of recouping lost energy as fast as one could fill up the tank of an internal combustion vehicle. That is also playing a factor in Toyota’s decision to continue running with a mix of powertrains, rather than tossing all of its eggs in one basket.

Pratt said that could change, however, as technologies advance and government influence helps improve national charging networks. When asked if it was possible to get to a point where battery-electric cars could recoup full charges in around five minutes under idyllic circumstances, the top dog at Toyota’s Research Institute said he hoped so someday.

“But I think it’s going to take more R&D to get there,” Pratt said.

 

[Image: Toyota]

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35 Comments on “Toyota Promises Solid-State Batteries By 2025...”


  • avatar
    notapreppie

    People are always watching for the big, noisy leaps in progress but it’s really the numerous incremental advances in existing technology that sneak up on you and freaking kill you…

    I mean, make things commercially viable.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Yep Toyota is on the right path here. The realize that current EVs are absolutely laughable when compared to ICE vehicles. The range is way too short and recharge times are far too long.

      Range needs to increase to double that of a comparable ICE vehicle OR recharge times needs to be in the 10,000+ miles per hour range like ICE vehicles. Until then, EVs are nothing more than a fad. Until they can match the bar set by ICE vehicles for those above items and when they are not as damaging to the environment, people may take a look at them. Until then, they are nothing more than a joke.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “Yep Toyota is on the right path here. The realize that current EVs are absolutely laughable when compared to ICE vehicles. The range is way too short and recharge times are far too long.”

        Actually, they are still planning on shifting to full BEVs and that’s already happening. Current EVs aren’t laughable. They don’t have the noise, vibration, and torque-lag of ICE motors. You can fuel them overnight and range is more than enough for most people. Recharging speed doesn’t matter in most cases since you can charge with the vehicle unattended.

        • 0 avatar
          EBFlex

          Completely wrong. Most expensive EVs out there have major short comings when compared to the cheapest of ICE vehicles.

          Charging speed and the short range is most certainly an issue for a lot of people which is why we see such low adoption rates. EVs are a great second or third vehicle. But as a primary they are sub standard. Ranges need to double to make them viable.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            “Most expensive EVs out there have major short comings when compared to the cheapest of ICE vehicles.”

            So do trucks. Compared to a $20,000 entry compact, they’re a lot more expensive to buy and run, they are no fun to drive, and they can be a pain to park. So, when can I expect your anti-truck rant?

            EVs may not work for you, but clearly they do work for plenty of other people, and their money’s just as green as yours is. Therefore, my solution to your EV issue is simple: don’t buy one.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “So do trucks. Compared to a $20,000 entry compact, they’re a lot more expensive to buy and run, they are no fun to drive, and they can be a pain to park. So, when can I expect your anti-truck rant?”

            Never. I’m not going to respond to a straw man argument.

            And no matter how much you try and spin it, EVs have major issues that the majority of people don’t want to deal with.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The reason people haven’t adopted EVs is cost, pure and simple. So far, there’s only one EV that has been fully cost-competitive with gas cars in its segment: the Tesla Model 3. And, what do you know, it’s the sales leader in the segment, beating ICE entries from virtually every major OEM.

            If Ford and GM are able to follow through on their promises to sell EVs like the Lightning and Equinox at segment-competitive prices, those EVs will do fine. The increased hassle of road trips is counterbalanced for many by the decreased hassle of cutting out gas station visits and at least half of maintenance events in day-to-day life.

            Only on TTAC is everyone a weekly road-tripper who pees in a bottle to drive 1000 miles on a routine Saturday.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    There are a lot of coulds, hopes, and maybes going on here.

    If Toyota can’t economically commercialize solid-state batteries by 2025, they will have lost a LOT of ground to others who are moving forward on lithium ion. They almost have to make this work, or else.

    If 2025 is the goal, then by the end of 2023 we should see a plant going up to produce these batteries in volume.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Regardless of what they’re saying publicly, the real reason for it going into hybrids first is the production rate. It’s going to take a while to ramp up production. They’ve had a tough time figuring out how to mass-produce the battery. The manufacturing process for it depends on super-dry conditions. They’ve been making them by hand with the worker outside of an isolation booth with those long accordion gloves reaching in.

      “Pratt continued by outlining how modern charging stations aren’t yet able to output the kind of energy that would make any purely electric vehicle (solid-state or otherwise) capable of recouping lost energy as fast as one could fill up the tank of an internal combustion vehicle.”

      That’s not really true. Tesla is at the moment deploying 1.5 mW Mega Chargers. They’re using a trick on the vehicles that others including myself are using to speed up charging. Dividing the pack electrically into multiple smaller packs, then charging them in parallel. You run multiple 350kw chargers in parallel into 4 or more packs separated electrically. That’s why the megacharger connector is a long stick sort of thing. If a Hyundai Ioniq 5 takes 18 minutes 5 to 80%, you could divide that time by 4 and get 5 to 80% done in 4.5 minutes. I’m not saying you could at this moment drive up to a MegaCharger today and do that. But with modifications and access to the MegaCharger, it could be done. In other words, the battery and charger tech to do it is in fact here.

      Here’s a closeup. It’s basically 4 separate ports on a single connector:

      https://insideevs.com/news/336764/up-close-look-at-tesla-semi-megacharger-port-video/

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “Regardless of what they’re saying publicly, the real reason for it going into hybrids first is the production rate”

        I’ve been saying this for years, yet billions were spent on products no one but a tiny minority wanted or asked for and subsidized by everyone… think there is a word for that.

        Hybrids would allow for battery research to continue while delivering a somewhat reliable and profitable product using the existing fueling infrastructure without range issues which could somewhat cheaply be repaired later its lifespan. Reliable may be up for debate but EV offers none of those other points, yet they chose EV and a financial black hole.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “they will have lost a LOT of ground to others who are moving forward on lithium ion”

      That assumes there is much ground to lose. Barely, maybe; with enough creative accounting; being able to pretend to make some returns, under a regime of huge de facto handouts; unsustainable by already broke governments; isn’t exactly a long term business worth fighting over.

      And, if lion should, against all odds, suddenly morph into something viable, it’s not as if catching up to the vaporvare specialists are all that hard, for anyone with the wherewithal to build real cars.

  • avatar
    jmo

    IIRC Honda and Toyota were doing a lot of work and made some big bets on hydrogen. But it looks like battery tech improved faster (more?) than they expected so they’ve had to pivot to BEVs.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Looks at battery density of cell phones over the past few generations of IPhones. That’s actual, real world, battery tech improvements. Or, perhaps watt-hour densities of Makita packs….

      Batteries are mature technology. The reason Apple decided to jump into cellphones, was because, by that time, the easy gains in battery densities, were plateauing. Since then, things have continued to slow, as is the case with all matur(e|ing) technology. And the Iphone is a while ago by now.

  • avatar
    TimK

    Hybrids are a rational path forward. Take the existing PHEV RAV4 Prime and give it a solid state battery that will allow 80 miles all-electric. This covers 90% of what most consumers expect for a BEV, and without range anxiety.

    • 0 avatar
      dougjp

      Exactly. Toyota is the only intelligent manufacturer, as everyone is doing the “bigger than you” dance re: electrics – what a joke.

      Reality is what it is. MOST people have NO interest in being at a (it seems to me to be a robbery potential personified) electric charging station for 15 minutes +/-, looking at geeks who are in turn looking at smartphones. That’s a barf worthy environment. And at -10 degrees, even worse.

      As I force transition to some partial ‘zappy’ life with cars, as I am being forced to do against my will, I will only go as far as hybrid, and only if the purpose of hybrid is MORE performance.

      Toyota understands the vast majority have no interest in adding range anxiety or charging stations to their lifestyle. I don’t see anyone else who understands reality. So Toyota/Lexus may be my next purchase, as VW that I drive now has gone all GaGa over electrics and therefore turned me right off.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Me too at the present time I will go only so far as a hybrid having an e-assist Lacrosse and hopefully soon my hybrid Maverick will be made. I will wait for battery technology to improve and the price to go down before buying an EV. If Toyota can prove the solid state battery at a lower cost I would be then be interested in an EV. Lithium is a rarer material which causes environmental damage when mined and it is expensive and heavy. I have lithium batteries in some of my lawn equipment which is ok but it still could be improved upon with batteries that are lighter, longer lasting , longer use time, and less expensive. If those things could be done with more charging infrastructure and less time to charge a lot more people would buy EVs including me.

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        anyone with logical thought processes would make sure they can have a charger installed at home to charge overnight.

        thats the whole point in saving money- charge overnight at home with low rates while you sleep which is the main logical reason to buy a BEV. your electric bill will also be your fuel bill

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Up here in The Canada we have slightly different needs for vehicles, primarily based on the weather.

    For me to buy a new electric car it would to have an engine in it.

    Ideally it would be an AWD sedan with a floor made of battery. There would be a three-cylinder turbo-Diesel somewhere in it, probably in the front, where it should be. Four motors and 650 ft/lbs on the ground would be perfect.

    GET ON IT!

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “One of the issues people have talked a lot about in terms of BEVs not being a quite a drop-in substitute for a gasoline powered car is refueling time.

    Ugh! & No!!!! Two things…… 1st – You don’t fuel an EV like you do an ICE, meaning you don’t wait for the battery to be almost exhausted before plugging in. 2nd – and related, is that you can fuel an EV at your home while you sleep, do laundry, watch TV, whatever………try that with an ICE vehicle.

    Being a Minnesotan the biggest issue I see with battery vehicles is cold weather performance. Electric heat, snowy roads, reduced battery performance means your range could easily be cut in half.

    • 0 avatar
      Dale Houston

      This, right here. We’ve got an electric and a pair of gasoline cars. The electric leave the house with a ‘full tank’ every day. The only time we use an outside charger is on road trips. And it’s worth the longer charge time for the lower cost and crazy performance.

      Every time I need to fill up one of the Mazdas I am reminded what a pain in the butt it is to visit the gas station.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @Dale Houston: Exactly. That’s one of the things I noticed with EV ownership. You discover that what a pain going to a gas station can be. Fueling for many of us is more of an issue with an ICE car. That and torque-lag are two big issues you notice with ICE cars.

        Sure there are only 208.4 million single-family dwelling units that can at home charge vs. the 37.8 million multifamily units. But, that means there could be more than a half-billion people in this country that might benefit from overnight charging. As far as infrastructure goes, if someone is worried about it, they could get solar and a storage battery. Sodium-Ion storage batteries are coming onto the market (Bluetti has them now), so storage will be getting cheaper.

        Another thing about EVs vs. ICE, is that we’re turning into a battery-based device society vs. fossil fuel. Nothing to do with being green or government mandates. It’s happening anyway. Everything in our lives is becoming lithium-ion and eventually sodium-ion powered. Humans are always trying to find better more efficient ways of doing things. Fossil fuel devices have hit a dead end, but with our ever-increasing knowledge of material science, Maybe, in 50 to 100 years we might even see diamond/nuclear betavoltaic batteries perfected. No charging. In the meantime, we’re seeing fast-paced improvements happening in lithium and sodium batteries and whatever issues we have now, will get resolved as time goes by.

        Betavoltaics are probably the end-game as far as powering vehicles and everything else goes. I don’t know how long it will take to get there but it might even make fusion reactors somewhat obsolete if they ever get them working. Betavoltaics are a long, long, long way off, but seem doable with a few decades worth of advances in material science:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_battery

        I think the progression will be lithium-ion, then sodium-ion, then betavoltaic.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        For lots of people with multiple cars, at least one of them being a “fuelled at home” BEV (or whatever else can be fueled at home) makes lots of sense.

        Problem is that, while a fuelled-at-home BEV is a tiny bit more convenient than a fuelled-at-a-gas-station ICE for the trips both can handle; the difference is much bigger, in the opposite direction, for longer trips. And even for those who mostly drive local, paying extra for a vehicle which renders a sizable class of trips darned near impossible, isn’t a good tradeoff, just for the small edge in convenience a BEV provides when running in circles around one’s home charging port.

        • 0 avatar
          kcflyer

          reminds me of the old joke which was a spiff of the American express tag line.

          “the soviet express card, don’t leave home”

          Circa 2022, the Biden EV plan, buy this expensive, heavy car with fewer features than a ten year old civic and then stay close to home with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Dale Houston

        We take our EV on road trips. It’s great. Charge time _is_ longer than gas-up time, but also considerably cheaper. Even cheaper if you stay at a hotel with a destination charger.

        I would not want to go back to owning a gas powered car after a year of electric ownership. I have heard the same from my other friends who have gone electric.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      Being a Minnesotan you should realize that people don’t wait for their ICE vehicle to be empty before refueling it. Because most people realize that if they go off the road (because they’re a Minnesota driver and don’t know how to drive) they will have a nice warm vehicle for hours and hours while waiting for a tow.

      Further, who cares if you can charge at home when you’re essentially “filling the tank” with an eye dropper? That’s pointless. It’s far easier to fuel at a gas station where you can do it at a rate of 10,000+ miles per hour vs an electric that adds maybe 80-100 miles of range per hour.

      You’re right about the range though. Major range drop in the cold. Further probing how pointless EVs are right now.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Toyota is making two bets here: that their hybrids will buy them enough time to really get the solid-state battery right the first time, and second that they will be able to bring a reliable, cheaper, durable, fast charging BEV to market that will dominate the non-Tesla part of the market. Toyota has zero interest in making fast BEVs, they have all they’re looking to relive the history of the 1970s oil-crisis that made Japanese cars the ones to have. Instead of an oil-crisis though it’s govt legislation they need to time just perfectly.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Agree with Toyota’s philosophy and as a consumer I have less interest in how fast a car goes and how fast it accelerates from 0 to 60 as long as it has enough acceleration to enter a freeway or interstate and pass safely. I would want faster charging times, lighter smaller more affordable batteries, and more infrastructure before I would buy an EV. Also want an EV that is more affordable. I don’t want a Tesla. For now I am happy with hybrids.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    So if we can increase ev production by about 20 times the current pace, and if ev’s can somehow become affordable compered to similar ICE vehicles without taxpayer subsidies, and if nuclear power plants can be built in every state and region to supply emissions free power them…. all we have to do is figure out a way do double the maintenance budget for every road in America to repair the damage caused by cars and trucks carrying any extra 1 to 3 thousand pounds in weight everywhere they go. Or we could just force the proles to walk and ride bikes and have cars for the wealthy only. Either way should work.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Fortunately the plan is to phase out private vehicle ownership either by cost or direct decree.

      Protip: the last vestige they will go after, if at all, will be classic/antique since their use is already somewhat restricted. Get ye some classics, proles.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Not exactly many states are charging an extra tax for EVs and the Federal Government will eventually charge a similar tax to replace the fuel tax.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    I predict that Toyota will win (as they always do). They know what consumers want before the consumer actually does, see Camry , Rav4 /Highlander. In this instance though they don’t need a crystal ball though. Most surveyed adults indicated they would buy a hybrid as their next commuter car. In fact , even gear headed Car and Driver polled respondents chose a hybrid.
    As long as Toyota still builds Supras and GRs- I’d drive a hybrid AWD Camry daily and a GR.
    If our 18 Limited Prem . Sienna were totaled today I’d probably go ahead and buy a new Sienna given what the replacement cost would be , but I’d miss the big v6 for sure, but a Hybrid would make more sense.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Just wish Toyota would make a hybrid compact pickup like the Maverick. I ordered a Maverick but if Toyota had a hybrid compact pickup I would buy it instead. Maybe Toyota will decide to build one with this solid state battery.

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