World’s first all-solid-state battery car is here? Well, it might be hard to believe for you all. But Toyota has actually cracked the code. Though it’s running on the road, it is still a prototype and unavailable for the mass. But compared to other EV manufacturers, what Toyota has done puts them ahead of the competition.
It’s just the story of Sep 7, 2021, when Toyota uploaded a 12-second video of A Vehicle equipped with all-solid-state batteries on their official YouTube channel “Toyota Motor Corporation.” When it comes to dominating the automotive world, Toyota was also the one who brought Hybrid cars to the masses. In terms of innovation, Toyota may get far behind Tesla, but they tend to bring innovation at a slower pace but whatever they bring stays sustainable for a long time and, of course, for the masses.
However, leaving all the competitors behind, Toyota has succeeded in making the World’s first all-solid-state battery car, and hopefully, this is going to be the new biggest revolution in the Electric Vehicle world. However, the real question is, “Will Toyotas Big Bet on Solid-State Battery Cars going to prove its worth or not?
How Solid State Battery Works?
Let’s start by looking at lithium-ion batteries that we use today. A conventional lithium-ion battery cell consists of three main layers, a positive electrode or cathode, a negative electrode or anode, a porous polymer separator that keeps the electrodes apart, and two electrical contacts, one at each electrode.
The electrodes are made of particles of material capable of storing energy and the entire cell is flooded with a liquid that serves as the electrolyte, which is the medium of lithium ions traveling. Each cathode particle is made up of a lithium-containing metal oxide. Such as lithium nickel, manganese cobalt oxide is commonly known as NMC. These elements form a stable structure to hold the lithium ions when the battery is in a discharged state. The lithium leaves the cathode particle and makes its way through the liquid electrolyte whenever the battery charges. Passing through the pores in the separator to the anode, lithium enters anode particle from there. They are normally made from sheets of carbon, sometimes adding silicon. These sheets of carbon host the lithium until the energy is needed, with six carbon atoms holding a single lithium-ion.
On the other hand, solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte as opposed to a liquid or polymer gel found in current lithium-ion batteries. They function broadly like regular batteries using cathodes and anodes separated by an electrolyte that allows charged ions to pass through.
While discharging power oxidation occurs at the anode to create compounds with free-flowing electrons, these electrons deliver electrical energy. The compounds in the cathode gain electrons and thus stores power. And when the battery is charged, the process is reversed.
Solid-state batteries offer a greater energy density anywhere from two to eight times a regular battery, all while having the same weight and lower fire risks. In addition, the heat generated inside a solid-state battery is 70 to 80 percent less than a regular battery. Besides, the technology also avoids toxic materials found in current batteries. Faster charging, longer cycle life and higher voltages are all additional advantages.
Thus, in many circumstances, solid-state batteries are different and even better than Lithium-ion ones. It has a greater range, 15-minutes fast charge, and is a much safer option than others batteries.
This eventually means the big bet of Toyota in solid-state cars may not go into loss. And according to the European patent office and international energy agency, Toyota has favorably gotten over 1000 patents on solid-state batteries to its name. In fact, between 2014 and 2018, Toyota recorded the largest patent applications on solid-state batteries ever. However, Toyota is not the only one who invested in solid-state batteries. With a lucrative fund from Bill Gates and Volkswagen, an American company named Quantum Scape is also working on solid-state batteries for years. However, no companies have still yet managed to bring solid-state batteries into mass production. Luckily, Toyota is teaming up with major battery manufacturers like Panasonic and Toshiba, so they just might have a fighting chance.
Toyota’s Solid-State Battery Cars
Now coming to Toyota’s solid-state battery cars, Toyota has been working on their electric vehicle lines since 2012 and is determined to change the electric vehicle game with their new solid-state battery cars.
According to Toyota, “Solid-state battery technology is a potential cure-all for the drawbacks facing electric vehicles that run on conventional lithium-ion batteries, including the relatively short distance traveled on a single charge as well as charging times.”
Also, the solid-state battery cars will charge 0 to 100% in just 10 minutes, with a pretty impressive range of 500 km. That means you can travel up to 500 km by solid-state battery cars in just one charge. It is almost double that a lithium-ion battery could give in one charge and contains minimal risk than a lithium one. The safety of solid-state batteries comes from replacing liquid electrolytes with solid materials.
Since the battery is far less vulnerable to flame, it enables them to work in a broader temperature window. For this reason, people in certain tropical climates will have the opportunity to own an electric vehicle.
This means less safety technology will be required on the car and more room to give extra power. Even charging the cars won’t be a big hassle for you as the cars will support any public charging point or personal charging counters too.
Also, you can maintain over 80% of your charge capacity for 800 charge cycles or 2400 miles. It means solid-state battery cars will be the ultimate solution of speed, charge, and safety.
Design of the Solid State Battery Cars
In a video of Toyota’s prototype solid-state, the car seems to be similar to Toyota’s LQ concept, which first debuted in front of the public at the 2019 Tokyo motor show. However, that was not the only time we have seen the LQ. It is the Star of Japan and appeared in a series of commercials for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
After that, it was seen on the road test of solid-state batteries in August 2020. Yes, the video was uploaded just a few months ago. But Toyota’s Vice President of Mobility Communications, Shiro Tachimoto, stated to The Drive that they obtained license plate registration for vehicles equipped with all-solid-state batteries and conducted test drives last year.
But unfortunately, the breath-taking LQ version is not going to come on mass production. So whoever dreams of riding the LQ on the road will have to wait a bit longer. Instead of the LQ concept, Toyota is going to put the solid-state batteries on their new series of BEVs, the “bZ4X”.
According to Toyota, the series of bZ4X will be on the market by in mid-2022. But there is a possibility of getting delayed also. However, according to industry experts, Toyota occupies the top position in Solid-state battery technology.
And Japanese government is also trying its best to assist Toyota in developing and researching solid-state batteries. The Japanese government has funded Toyota and Nissan with 2 trillion yen which is equivalent to $19.2 billion just to support decarbonization technology.
So with conquering the first stage on solid-state batteries and a fund of 19 billion, it won’t be too tough for Toyota to bring the electrified cars to life.
Though Toyota is at the forefront of the line in solid-state batteries, the competition is not going to be easy for them. Because the Japanese company Nissan is also planning to bring their electric vehicle car based on solid-state batteries by 2028.
Even, a well-known car brand Mercedes Benz has also developed the eCitaro bus to run on solid-state bars. Not to forget the BMW, which is also heavily betting on the technology, with a promise to reveal the prototype soon by 2025. Adding to the competition, an early proponent Fisker has also dropped its solid-state plans entirely earlier this year.
And last but not least, the EV king Elon Musk has also revealed their competition for solid-state batteries, the 4680 battery which will be used in future Tesla cars. And from Elon’s view, the battery will have a jaw-dropping 1million miles of life. If all this is true it’ll be interesting to see how solid-state battery stays in top position.
Hence, it is clearly visible that Toyota’s Solid-State Battery has to face a lot of competition in the future. But as we know, Japan is a country with the most diverse car culture in the world. They tend to share or swap parts from other car manufacturers in order to make cars better. If this culture continues, other car manufacturers will have the freedom to use their innovation without any boundaries, thus improving the automotive industry!