Japan’s Toyota is hoping to overcome remaining technical obstacles to introduce what it believes will prove to be a commercial battery breakthrough during the first half of the 2020s, which could potentially cut the costs associated with electric vehicle manufacturing.

“There are a few next-generation battery technologies we’re looking at, and the most promising is an all solid-state battery,” Toyota Chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada said in an interview ahead of the Tokyo Motor Show. “We’re scrambling to finish developing this technology, but a few issues still remain as we try to mass produce this.”
Electric vehicle
The battery would be an improvement on lithium-ion, replacing the liquid or gel-form electrolyte with a solid, conductive material. Toyota believes solid-state battery technology can double the capacity of today’s lithium-ion battery technology, and help EVs travel further on a full charge.

The company is still working out hindrances to increasing that capacity and hasn’t yet mastered how to mass produce them to last as intended for a mainstream car that some buyers could expect to drive for 200,000 kms (124,274 miles) or more.

Uchiyamada  dismissed a lifespan of three years. “Nobody would buy a car like that, if you had to replace the battery after just three years,” he said.

The significance of the battery’s higher capacity, or energy density, is the potential for Toyota to reduce manufacturing costs for an EV’s battery propulsion system. High battery capacity means the technology needs less lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel or aluminum, allowing automakers to reduce the overall size of an EV propulsion system.

“In automotive manufacturing, smaller and lighter generally means cheaper to produce,” another Toyota official said.

Global automakers are racing to lower battery manufacturing costs to pad out today’s thin margins on battery cars.

“We see this tipping point around 2025,” says Nissan Motor Co 7210.T Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci. “By then, for the customer, it will be practically the same cost to buy petrol or EV. If you have the same price for EVs and petrol, why would you buy traditional technology?”