Toyota Eyes Huge Splash In Electric Vehicle Market With Fast Charging Solid State Batteries

Gas prices being what they are, we are always encouraged when automakers announce advancements in electrical battery technologies that could one day flip the automobile industry on its head. So it goes with Toyota—the Japanese automaker this week said it is getting close to a breakthrough in electric car battery technology that could see electrical vehicles drive a greater distance before needing a recharge.

The new battery type Toyota is working on is a solid electrolyte that would lead to smaller and lighter batteries. In theory, these compact batteries could hold a higher charge than the batteries that are in use by electrical vehicles today. While there is still work to be done, Toyota said it was working "production engineering" for the new battery type and is optimistic it will sell new cars equipped with them in 2020.

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Today's electrical vehicles run on lithium-ion batteries. The so-called solid state batteries that Toyota is developing replaces the partial liquid solution with a solid. Doing so provides benefits beyond being able to store more energy in a smaller, lighter package. Whereas today's batteries degrade over time, solid state batteries bring an improvement to self life. In addition, they are less prone to overheating and catching fire.

Toyota has long been involved in new battery technologies. It has not always gone well. For example, Toyota initially chose the wrong cell chemistry for the batteries used in its third generation Prius and was later forced to switch to older, heavier batteries, according to Green Car Reports. The lithium cell that Toyota originally chose used a nickel-based chemistry that was cheaper to produce, but suffered from a more complicated production process.

The switch in focus to solid state batteries is not exclusive to Toyota. Many companies see its potential, including Google, which is also developing solid state batteries.

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