Toyota Working on Solid-State Breakthrough Battery for 2020 Debut

MAR 18 2013 BY STAFF 13

Breakthrough battery technology is coming…in 2020.

Comparison Between Lithium-Ion and Solid-State Technology

Comparison Between Lithium-Ion and Solid-State Technology

That’s the word from Toyota, the automaker that would like to stop using lithium-ion batteries in the future due to cost and excessive weight.

Toyota says it’s readying both solid-state and lithium-air battery technology for use in production plug-in vehicles by 2020

In the words of Toyota:

“As Toyota anticipates the widespread use of electric vehicles in the future, we have begun research in developing next-generation secondary batteries with performance that greatly exceeds that of lithium-ion batteries.  Beginning in 2010, we planned to accelerate our research through collaboration with production technologies. We are currently conducting research and development on two types of batteries, all-solid-state batteries and lithium-air batteries.”

Solid-state batteries utilize a solid electrolyte and electrodes, unlike lithium-ion technology, which utilizes liquid electrolytes.

The expected benefits of solid-state batteries include:

  • The lack of liquid in solid-state battery cells enables them to be connected to each other without being placed in their own individual cases, which enables more compact packaging.
  • Solid-state batteries have the potential to be extremely high in energy density.
  • Solid-state technology promises to offer an exceptional power-to-weight ratio

Some say that more than half the bulk of lithium-ion batteries comes from materials that can’t store energy.  Solid-state technology promises to reduce the amount of near-useless material in the battery.

Lithium-air batteries, which Toyota is working on, would come after solid-state and could theoretically store up to 50 times more energy than today’s lithium-ion units.

However, theory doesn’t necessarily equal reality, but 2020 could potentially be the breakthrough year for battery tech.  Only seven years of breath-holding.  Hope you’re patient.

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13 Comments on "Toyota Working on Solid-State Breakthrough Battery for 2020 Debut"

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Well, if it comes true, it will immediately cause the gasoline engine to be obsolete. Fortunately, we’re already building out charging infrastructure for our first generation EVs so that should be in place somewhat before this is released. 2020 seems like a long way away, but it is actually just over 6 years away.

2020 really is perfect timing for a major leap forward in the market. Exciting times indeed.

Ford is a bit ahead of the game, and has been working on solid-state battery technology since the 1990s.

“Xtreme says its solid-state battery chemistry, derived from technology originally developed by Ford Aerospace in the 1990s, can compete with lithium-ion in terms of energy and power density, while using dry materials that sit like stacked bricks in operations centers.”

Ford opened a new battery technology center in 2012, and now has 1,000 dedicated engineers to increase development and reduce testing by 25%. I am sure this has much to do with the partnership with Arbin Instruments.

Next generation Hybrid/plug-in vehicles are due 2016/2017. We should see at lease double capacity lithium batteries followed by solid-state batteries in Ford vehicles.

It’s right around the corner.

“50 times more energy that today’s lithium-ion units”… and just think, motors in today’s electric vehicles already make them 5 times more efficient than similar ICE (gas engines). If they reach market, these cells woud enable Tesla to store an entire battery under a single seat vs. the whole floor!

The real question is at “what price” will Toyota be able to sell these air-battery units in 2020 vs. significance of the lesser remembered details about the technology & size (volume). Will Toyota’s cells be 1/2, or 1/50 the price of today’s lithium-ion batteries for same kWh of storage? At a rate of 7% decrease in battery price per year, any new technology will need to compete with batteries that are only 60% of what they cost today.

Looking forward to reading the 20/20 comparison. 🙂

+1 to the “at what price” sentiment

The size/efficiency of today’s lithium battery really isn’t the barrier to entry/adoption, it is all about the cost. No one is saying, “I would buy that Nissan LEAF if only its battery pack was 30% smaller and 200lbs lighter.”

The next battery tech jump (arriving in 2014) is going to see about a 60% improvement in density and an undecided (as of yet) degree of savings. As long as innovation and the scaling of battery production continues to enable the price to fall year-over-year, it is good news all around.

Weight reduction = cost reduction, throughout the car. Also less weight means less kWh required to achieve a set range.

It this Toyota’s attempt to stand by their claim that “Li-ion is not ready for prime-time”? LOL!

Even though Ford is working on solid-state batteries, it looks like the partnership between Ford and Arbin Instruments and Sandia National Lab will bear fruit way before solid-state batteries are ready. “The U.S. Department of Energy is awarding a $3.1 million grant to Arbin Intruments, Ford Motor Company, and Sandia National Laboratories to improve the efficiency of batteries for use in alternative-energy vehicles. Arbin Instruments will develop a high-precision battery testing device which will greatly improve battery-life forecasting and monitoring. This device will reduce the time and expense required in research, development, and qualification testing of new batteries. The development of this new Ultra-High Precision Testing System has the potential to radically impact the performance and cost of advanced batteries for EV and grid-storage applications. Eric Toone, director of DOE’s Advanced Research Project Agency-Energy office, told The Detroit Free Press that battery output might be doubled by more precise and efficient diagnostics, thus improving performance of alternative energy vehicles. “The idea here is to increase the range of electric vehicles … If you look at the total amount of storage space that there is in a battery, and then start knocking stuff for safety, security … by the time all… Read more »

I don’t know…I always am thrilled to read these kind of articles. They give me hope for a brighter future. Although, my logical side has to ask the question, that if you are a major car company on the cusp of a major paradigm shift technology like solid state, lithium air, zinc air, whatever, why wouldn’t you sock every available brain cell on this?! Toyota is talking 6 years away, some others say 10 years, etc. Why would it take that long? Hey, if they indeed come through and develop one of these technologies and it works as theorized, then ok, it was worth the wait. But just hurry up!

I tend to agree. And sometimes I wonder if it is simply their way of making an excuse as to why they don’t have any better plug-in offerings now. I mean, the batteries we have now are not perfect. But they are still very viable and several manufactures have proven that already. I’m sure Nissan, Ford, and Tesla is keeping an eye on future battery tech, but they are taking what we have now and doing something with it!

Microsoft used to make announcements like this just as the competition announced some product

Toyota doesn’t want EV’s. They rode the hybrid wagon, this sounds like a diversion tactic to shift attention away from barely having a plug-in hybrid…


I remember engineering classes in 1971 in which really cheap and efficient solar cells were just around the corner, just a matter of refining production methods.

Toyota is obviously trying to dampen present day enthusiasm.

What’s up with the IBM lithium-air battery consortium? Might have more confidence in what they see if they are still going on.