2012 Toyota RAV4 EVEnlarge Photo
Last November, Japan’s Nikkei newspaper reported that Toyota is rushing to start volume production of battery electric cars by 2020 and has established a dedicated team for the project.
Now, another Japanese newspaper, the Chunichi Shimbun (via Reuters), is reporting that Toyota is developing solid-state batteries for its electric cars and aims to have the first on sale in early 2022.
Solid-state batteries, as the name suggests, use solid electrolytes rather than liquid which most electric car batteries, like lithium-ion units, use today. The benefit is that solid-state batteries are less prone to overheating or fire, and they’re also much denser, meaning more capacity. The downside is that they’re still very expensive to manufacture on a mass scale.
According to the Chunichi Shimbun report, Toyota’s solid-state batteries will offer greater range than current lithium-ion batteries as well as recharge times of only a few minutes. The newspaper reports that other automakers are also developing solid-state batteries for next-generation electric cars.
Toyota dabbled with electric cars early on, even forming a partnership with Tesla in 2010 and testing the waters with the RAV4 EV two years later. But soon after the launch of the electric SUV, Toyota shocked many by deciding that hydrogen fuel cells were a better bet. It then cut its ties with Tesla and started work on the Mirai.
With the market embracing battery electric cars over fuel cells, Toyota is now in catch-up mode. The automaker has little choice, particularly because of China which plans to set goals for electric and plug-in hybrid cars to make up at least a fifth of local sales by 2025, with a staggered system of quotas beginning in 2018. Non-compliance could mean fines as well as the possibility of losing licenses to sell internal combustion cars. In response, Toyota is expected to launch an electric version of its C-HR in China in 2019. This model, however, is expected to use current lithium-ion batteries.