Solid-state batteries, which are capable of faster charging and a significantly longer range, are seen as the next step in the development of electric vehicles. Toyota is one of many companies interested in the technology and investing heavily in it. To this end, many think that this new tech would start being offered on electric cars in the near future but it seems like that won’t necessarily be the case.
Speaking to Autocar in December, Thiebault Pâquet, the company’s electrification strategy and powertrain manager, said that the technology would debut on a hybrid rather than a pure EV, at least when it comes to Toyota’s plans. Gill Pratt, the Japanese company’s chief scientist and head of the Toyota Research Institute, confirmed the initial report, telling Autoline during CES 2022 that the first Toyota with a solid-state battery will still have an internal combustion engine.
Pratt even went a bit further, claiming that development is on track, and that the first automobile without lithium-ion batteries would be available in the first part of the decade. Given that it is already January 2022, this suggests that the vehicle in question will be available in three years, if not sooner.
As for the reason why an EV with solid-state batteries is out of the question right now, Gill Pratt acknowledges it appears “a little bit unintuitive.” However, with the current crop of electric cars still costing far more than their gasoline counterparts, adding solid-state batteries to an EV would make it even more expensive, according to the chief scientist. Car makers definitely need to keep an eye on pricing and if a solid-state EV is even more expensive than one using lithium-ion batteries, it may very well become unviable for the company.
Between now and 2025, costs are projected to drop, but not enough to make an ICE-free car with solid-state batteries a thing. As a result, Toyota will first use the promising technology in hybrids, where the batteries will be smaller and hence have a smaller influence on the asking price.
Hybrids are also seen as a testbed for solid-state batteries, according to Gill Pratt, because the charging and discharging cycles are alternating faster. Hybrids will be a “tougher test” for next-generation batteries, which will eventually be placed in electric vehicles if product costs fall low enough.