Toyota’s moved one step closer towards manufacturing electric vehicles equipped with the revolutionary “solid-state batteries”, touted to completely revamp the EV scene, by partnering with an unusual organisation — a Japanese petroleum company called Idemitsu.
While a lot of manufacturers have been testing their hand at developing the technology, the Japanese auto giant has been at the forefront. Back in July, we reported that Toyota had announced a breakthrough in the battery tech, which could charge in 10 minutes and offer over 1,000 kilometres of range, more than double the range of today’s lithium-ion battery EVs, with the potential for even more.
Through a new report, Toyota said that its batteries wouldn’t need to skimp on battery life — a typical trade-off so far when developing solid-state batteries. The company’s recent advances have overcome this challenge and Toyota has moved its focus to bringing solid-state batteries into mass production. The aim is for the batteries to be ready for commercial use by 2027/28.
Battery health and longevity have been one of the biggest barriers for EV customers for a while and Toyota’s confidence in developing solid-state batteries which tackle this issue could very well be a “game-changer for BEVs (battery electric vehicles)”, said the company.
One major factor propelling Toyota towards solid-state tech is its new partnership with Japanese petroleum company Idemitsu, with the two companies working with lithium sulfide-based batteries.
Lithium sulfide is a byproduct of petroleum refining, which explains the unusual choice of partnering with a petroleum company when developing batteries for EVs. In fact, Idemitsu has been working on sulfide solid-state battery technology since 2001.
What are solid-state batteries?
Solid state batteries are often called the “unicorn” of battery technology, essentially because they hold almost a magical promise of delivering amazing energy and performance, charging times, and safety, but are really tricky to commercially produce and integrate into EVs.
Put simply, solid-state batteries utilise a solid electrolyte, replacing the flammable liquid or polymer gel found in current lithium-ion batteries, and it can take the form of ceramics, glass, sulphites or solid polymers. Thanks to the solid electrolyte having a smaller footprint, they promise some two to ten times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries of the same size.
Following the introduction of these cells and “with an eye to the future”, Toyota will develop a “higher-level specification”. This will improve range by 50 per cent compared with new lithium-ion cells, allowing a staggering 932 miles between recharges.
Toyota’s roadmap in revolutionising EV batteries
The report outlines the brand’s progress in not just solid-state tech, but also 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.
For context, it reckons the lithium-ion-based Performance battery, expected for 2026, 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.
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.