Toyota makes solid-state breakthrough in broader battery evolution | Top Gear
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Toyota makes solid-state breakthrough in broader battery evolution

Getting battery weight down, cells energy-denser and costs cheaper are the driving priorities for car makers

Published: 19 Sep 2023

Toyota has made a breakthrough in its development of solid-state batteries. The Japanese car maker reckons it won’t need to compromise on shorter battery life – a typical trade-off – when it puts its new solid-state batteries into mass production in 2027.

As the manufacturer says, "solid-state batteries have long been regarded as a potential game-changer for battery electric vehicles" (BEVs). Currently, a liquid electrolyte carries the electrons from the cathode to the anode and vice versa. While Toyota doesn’t specify the material they use, generally "solid-state" means the electrolyte is gel-like.

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Typically, a gel-based electrolyte is considered safer (more stable). Not only that; the gel enables ions to move more quickly. A solid electrolyte also has a better tolerance for higher voltages and temperatures. That’s great news for rapid charging, which Toyota calculates will be less than 10 minutes for a 10-80 per cent state of charge (SoC) using these new solid-state batteries.

Other advantages include a 20 per cent increase in driving range (roughly 620 miles) and better durability. Originally planning on sticking them in hybrids first – where the fuel engine could act as a safety net in the event the battery fails – Toyota says it's confident enough to focus on getting these new solid-state cells into BEVs from the get-go.

The brand’s not only made in-roads with solid-state technology. It also outlined a new range of advanced liquid-electrolyte batteries. With these, it’s been able to improve performance, range and fast charging – as well as lower weight and improve aerodynamics. Named Performance, Popularisation and High-performance, all Toyota's new batteries use different chemistries, but the latter two use a new bipolar battery structure (see pictured) to move the needle on all the relevant metrics.

To give context, it reckons the lithium-ion based Performance battery will reduce production costs of the all-electric bZ4x SUV by 20 per cent, increase range to 497 miles (up from 317) and reduce the rapid charging time to less than 20 minutes.

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Takero Kato, president of the new production facility, said: “We will need various options for batteries, just as we have different types of engines. It is important to offer battery solutions compatible with a variety of models and customer needs.”

Toyota says the next generation models will account for 1.7 million of the 3.5 million BEVs the brand expects to sell globally by 2030.

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