Solving the problem of storing enough energy in a dense enough package without undue cost, weight or danger is the primary hurdle facing hybrids and electric vehicles (EVs) today. Toshiba has already developed a battery technology that could make significant strides toward solving that problem, and late last year it announced plans to build up to 3 million of the high-tech cells per month starting in 2010. Today the company revealed that it has sped up charging times to just 90 seconds.

Jumping into the automotive world of battery production is a major step for Toshiba. Ramping up to 3 million cells per month would mean a 2000% increase in production over previous levels - the company made about 150,000 cells per month last year, primarily for electric bicycles.

The SCiB lithium batteries, as Toshiba calls its advanced lithium-ion cells, are impressive in their statistics. Just a few months ago the batteries were charging up to 90% in just 5 minutes, with a 10-year lifespan and a broad range of operating temperatures. Now the company has revealed it has figured out how to push that time back to just 90 seconds, reports Business Green - quicker than a fuel fill-up.

Due to their robust nature, the batteries are ideally suited to the automotive application. A five-minute stop to 'fill up' with electrons would equate to a typical fuel stop for a gasoline-powered car, and the long-lasting, temperature-independent nature suits them to the hard use a typical vehicle sees over its life.

Another benefit to the SCiB technology is that it reduces the likelihood of spontaneous combustion common to typical lithium-ion cells, made famous (or infamous) by overheating laptop batteries. The super-quick charge times are also homing in on the capabilities of so-called super-capacitors, though it's not yet been revealed if the SCiB batteries can discharge as quickly as they charge, making high-power-output applications possible as well.

To achieve its high production goals, Toshiba will be investing over $194 million into its production facilities. For more on the battery technology, and its implications for the automotive world, read our original coverage here or Toshiba's plans to work with Volkswagen on EVs.