Toyota pushes ahead with solid-state batteries for future electric cars

2020 Toyota Yaris

Toyota has been slower to embrace electric cars than other automakers, but the Japanese giant may soon catch up. Plans to introduce more electric cars and a potentially game-changing battery technology have been accelerated, Toyota recently announced.

A goal to sell 5.5 million electrified vehicles has been moved up by five years, from 2030 to 2025. Toyota’s definition of “electrified” includes battery-electric cars, hydrogen fuel-cell cars, and hybrids. Key to reaching that goal will be the introduction of solid-state batteries, which Toyota believes could happen as soon as 2020 — two years earlier than originally planned.

“If possible, by the time we have the Olympic games next year, we would like to make sure that a solid-state battery can be unveiled to the public,” Toyota research and development boss Shigeki Terashi said during a recent presentation on the automaker’s electrification plans.

Solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte, hence the name, in place of the liquid electrolyte used in the lithium-ion batteries that power all modern electric cars. Proponents of solid-state batteries claim they will offer greater energy density, meaning more electricity can be crammed into a given volume. That will allow automakers to increase the range of electric cars without having to make battery packs bigger. Solid-state electrolytes are also expected to be nonflammable, unlike current lithium-ion batteries.

In January, Toyota announced a joint venture with Panasonic (which currently supplies batteries to Tesla) to manufacture batteries, including solid-state designs. Toyota is also partnering with Subaru to develop a new platform for electric cars. It’s a major shift for Toyota, which, despite its experience with hybrids, hasn’t shown much enthusiasm for cars powered entirely by batteries until now.

Toyota sold two generations of the RAV4 EV, but that model was designed to meet California’s zero-emission vehicle mandate. The automaker has championed hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative to batteries, developing everything from the Mirai sedan to fuel-cell trucks and buses. But hydrogen infrastructure has been slow to develop, and Toyota needs to meet stricter emissions standards, particularly in China. So the automaker is giving batteries another try.

Toyota isn’t the only automaker investigating solid-state batteries. Volkswagen and BMW have invested in solid-state battery startups QuantumScape and Solid Power, respectively. Fisker believes solid-state batteries will allow its EMotion electric car to travel more than 500 miles on a charge. But as with any new technology, promising test results may not translate into success on a commercial scale.


How the furious pace of innovation has sculpted the world’s fastest motorcycles

The technology that powers modern MotoGP race bikes isn't just inside of them -- it's everywhere. Literally every single part of the bike, from the brake pad coating to the shape of the gas tank, is painstakingly designed to make the rider…

U.S. firm plans to power soccer stadiums using aging Nissan Leaf batteries

We've heard of aging EV batteries being repurposed to power homes and other facilities, but how about an entire sports stadium? An American firm is already doing just that, and now has plans to expand its system across Europe.

This ’60s Ford Mustang EV has Tesla-like specs and a Rolls-Royce-like price

British startup Charge Cars planted its flag where electric cars and muscle cars meet when it unveiled a battery-powered 1960s Ford Mustang. Starting with a reproduction shell, the firm added an electric powertrain and modern electronics.

Is 14 inches the perfect size for a laptop? These 4 laptops might convince you

If you're looking for the best 14-inch laptops, there are a number of factors to consider. You want good battery life, an attractive screen, solid performance, and a good build. Our favorites do all that and more.

Nissan’s high-tech ice cream truck removes the fumes from your order

Nissan has given the traditional ice cream truck a modern makeover to create a cleaner, greener, high-tech alternative that also gives aging electric-vehicle batteries a new life.

What is Apple CarPlay? Here's all you need to know about iOS in your dashboard

CarPlay is one of two major infotainment systems currently vying for your car's dash. Here's everything you need to know about the system, including its feature set and host of third-party apps.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Illuminated keyboards and a retro gaming console

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

What is Android Auto? Pull over and we'll tell you everything you need to know

What is Android Auto? Google's app overrides native infotainment systems to reduce distractions while driving. Here's everything you need to know about it, including the feature set and compatible car models.

The hottest of all Mini hatches is coming with a Batman-approved design

The Mini John Cooper Works GP concept first seen at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show will go into production in 2020, Mini has confirmed. The John Cooper Works GP is the ultimate performance version of the Mini Cooper.

Airbus-backed Voom could take on Uber’s on-demand flying taxi service

Airbus-backed Voom says it's planning to take its on-demand helicopter taxi to more U.S. cities this fall, a move that could put it in direct competition with Uber's app-based air taxi service launching soon in New York City.

Volvo invented the three-point seat belt, and it might be the company that kills it

Volvo didn't invent the seat belt, but the firm patented the three-point configuration found in every new car in 2019. Autonomous technology will force automakers to rethink how they keep motorists pinned to their seats, and Volvo is…

Airstream inspiration Road Chief puts an off-grid luxury camper on the road

Updated for off-grid camping for four people, the Bowlus Road Chief Endless Highways awaits your tow hitch and your wallet. Bowlus design, build quality, and technology in a world-class trailer towable by most mid-sized SUVs.

Ford promises exciting GT supercar news at Goodwood Festival of Speed

Ford will make an announcement regarding its GT supercar at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed. The GT's racing career is winding down, but could Ford be planning a hotter road-going version?
Product Review

2020 Mercedes GLS shows what happens when unstoppable force meets immovable luxury

The 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS is more than a luxury family-hauler. Yes, it’s got all the luxury features and all the bells and whistles of modern technology, but this three-row Teutonic tank has some serious off-road chops as well.