Toyota to unveil solid-state battery EV prototype next year

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Toyota is leading the way in the race to produce the first electric car with a solid-state battery. The Japanese giant plans to release its first working prototype in 2021, with a production car set to hit the market sometime in the early 2020s, according to a new report in the Nikkei.

The technology would usher in a new era of electric vehicles as solid-state batteries are more compact, charge faster, are safer and have a greater energy density than traditional lithium-ion batteries in common use today. They use a solid electrolyte instead of a liquid or gel polymer electrolyte that exist 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 1000 kilometers (621 miles) and take 10 minutes to charge. Solid-state batteries deteriorate less over time, and Toyota aims to maintain 90% of the battery’s performance over a 30-year life. Toyota leads the number of solid-state battery patents and owns more than 1,000 related to the technology.

However, there are still problems in manufacturing solid-state batteries. They require extremely dry conditions during production and the required raw lithium is a scarce commodity. To help accelerate the development of the technology, the Nikkei reports that the Japanese government is considering spending part of a new ¥ 2 trillion ($ 19.2 billion) decarbonization fund to build a solid-state battery manufacturing infrastructure in the country . Industrial companies such as Mitsui Kinzoku, gasoline company Idemitsu Kosan and Sumitomo Chemical are all getting ready to make the solid electrolytes.

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Volkswagen says it will produce its own solid-state batteries by 2025, and Nissan expects a prototype solid-state battery in 2028.

Toyota is developing the battery together with Panasonic, a leader in battery technology, and planned to reveal something at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. Although the games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Toyota was slow to say when the battery prototypes would make their first public display. Now it looks like it will be sometime in 2021.

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