Japan's major automakers and battery manufacturers have teamed up with their government to fast-track the development of solid-state batteries.
The automakers include Toyota, Nissan and Honda, who have joined forces with Japanese battery manufacturers Panasonic and GS Yuasa in the program, the Nikkei reported on Sunday.
Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will provide about $14 million in funding via the research body Consortium for Lithium Ion Battery Technology (LIBTEC), which is also involved in the program.
Solid-state batteries promise improved safety, range and charge times for electric cars compared to liquid-type batteries currently in use. This is because they're less prone to overheating or fire, and they’re also much denser, meaning more capacity.
The technology also promises lower costs, although manufacturing the batteries at the scale required for the auto industry is not viable at present. Toyota late last year said it will have solid-state batteries ready for production early next decade.
LIBTEC targets a range for electric cars with solid-state batteries of 340 miles on a single charge by 2025 and 500 miles by 2030, according to the Nikkei.
With the exception of Nissan, Japanese automakers, largely at the urging of their government, have focused their efforts on making hydrogen the energy storage solution of the future. But with the market clearly headed in the direction of batteries, Japanese automakers now find themselves on the back foot. Neither Honda nor Toyota have credible battery-powered electric cars on the market, and the second-generation Nissan Leaf that just went on sale lags rivals like the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 when it comes to range.