The solid state batteries are considered the future of electric car, the technological advance that will allow the electric car to prevail over the rest. The theory is that it will allow ultra-fast charges (similar to what it takes to fill a gas tank) and that without damaging the battery.
Toyota will have a car equipped with a solid state battery on the market before 2025, as explained Gill Pratt, director of the Toyota Research Institute. But, curiously, that battery will not be in an electric car, but in a hybrid of the brand.
Pratt explained on ‘Autoline’ that Toyota’s intention is to market in the “first half of this decade” a car with a solid state battery. And he was quick to add that he would do it in a hybrid car and not in a 100% electric car. In his terms, “it may seem contradictory, but it has its logic.”
Obviously, the initial reason is cost. In a hybrid the battery is small and that makes it more feasible to dilute the price of the battery in the price of the car. But the most important thing is that it will be a litmus test for these types of batteries.
First in hybrids, then in electric
As Pratt recalls, the number of charge and discharge cycles that a hybrid battery works with is far greater than what an electric car battery experiences. It is simply an extraordinary test bed for validating and fine-tuning technology.
Pratt reiterated that batteries charge and discharge differently than lithium-ion batteries. The hybrids will thus be a perfect test for the technology before Toyota implements it in a 100% electric car.
And we already know that he is going to launch a whole electric car offensive by 2035 (the new Toyota bZ4X it is only the beginning), some of them could thus have a battery of this type in the medium term. Being, without a doubt, a sports car the ideal initial model for this, due to the high level of discharge and charge to which a battery in a sports car would be subjected.
At the same time, Pratt recalls that the solid-state battery is just one piece of the puzzle of reducing charging times. Without a very powerful charging networkIn the end, that battery won’t do much good. It will have a higher energy density, which implies more autonomy with a lower weight, but we will not be able to enjoy its very fast charging times.
As now, a car capable of recharging at 200 kW is of no use if the charging points available at the time we need them do not exceed 50 kW. “It is something that all manufacturers can help improve,” explains Pratt, but it is above all the legislator who can do the most for it.
We must not lose sight of the fact that this is a very optimistic calendar for this technology. Solid-state batteries have been eluding engineers for years with no good way to bring them into large-scale production at an adequate cost.
However, by the middle of this decade, Toyota could be poised to turn this around. If they succeed, and cargo nets follow, it could be a disruptive technology giving Toyota a technological and commercial advantage similar to that currently enjoyed by Tesla.