Could Solid-State Batteries Improve EVs?

    17 June 2023

    Toyota Motor Corporation of Japan is one of the world's largest carmakers. The company has faced criticism for being slow to develop electric vehicles (EVs).

    This week, Toyota announced that it had reached a "technological breakthrough" in the development of solid-state batteries. The company said it has overcome an issue with the durability of solid-state batteries. It said it is ready to move from research toward production.

    The carmaker told investors it expects to sell vehicles powered by solid-state batteries by 2027 or 2028.

    FILE - A Toyota concept electric vehicle sits on display at the at the Chicago Auto Show, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
    FILE - A Toyota concept electric vehicle sits on display at the at the Chicago Auto Show, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

    Solid-state batteries

    Solid-state batteries use thin layers of solid electrolytes that carry lithium ions between electrodes. The lithium-ion batteries currently used in EVs use liquid electrolytes.

    Solid-state batteries have been used in small electronic devices like pacemakers and smartwatches. But mass-market production of the batteries for EVs has developed more slowly.

    Solid-state batteries can hold more energy than liquid lithium-ion batteries. The gain could ease concerns about the limited distance an EV can travel.

    A Reuters study in March found that 35 percent of Americans wanted EVs that can travel more than 800 kilometers between charges. That is a distance few currently offer.

    Solid-state batteries also promise to reduce charging time. Toyota said it expects its solid-state battery would have a charging time of 10 minutes or less.

    There is also the issue of safety. The electrolyte in liquid lithium-ion batteries presents a risk of fire or chemical leaks.

    Companies working on solid-state batteries

    Several carmakers and technology companies have tested solid-state batteries for EVs. But they have been unable so far to produce them in large amounts.

    It is hard to design a solid electrolyte that is stable and still carries lithium ions between electrodes. Solid-state batteries do not last long and are much more costly to make than liquid lithium-ion batteries.

    Other major carmakers have also noted their efforts in producing solid-state batteries.

    Nissan Motor of Japan was the first automaker to launch a mass-market EV with its Leaf. It says it is developing solid-state batteries and is working toward mass production by 2028.

    Honda is also developing solid-state batteries. But the Japanese carmaker has not said when the batteries might be ready for production.

    QuantumScape is an American company backed by Bill Gates and Volkswagen of Germany. It has said it is working with six carmakers to develop the technology.

    Mercedes-Benz, Stellantis and TotalEnergies have an agreement to develop solid-state batteries with Taiwan-based battery maker ProLogium Technology.

    Ford, BMW and Hyundai Motor have invested in Solid Power, which is producing sample batteries. Hyundai has said it plans to mass-produce solid-state batteries by 2030.

    The EV market leader, Tesla, has not detailed solid-state battery development plans. The company said it has centered its efforts on the production of more powerful 4680 battery cells for its Cybertruck and other vehicles.

    I'm Ashley Thompson.

    Hai Do adapted this story for Learning English based on reporting from Reuters.


    Words in This Story

    breakthrough - n. a sudden, important success

    battery - n. device placed inside a machine, such as watch and car, to supply electricity

    durability - n. state of strength and good condition over a long period of time

    electrolyte - n. a liquid (in a battery) through which electricity can pass

    electrode - n. one of the two points through which electricity flows into or out

    charge - n. an amount of electricity

    stable - adj. not easily changed or moved

    sample - n. a small amount that gives you information about something