Solid State Battery breakthrough from Toyota could be great news for future small electric cars

  • Toyota plans to cut the cost, size, and weight of EV batteries in half by adopting solid-state battery technology as opposed to the widely used lithium-ion solutions used in EVs
  • It plans to bring this battery technology to a car in 2027, with a possible 745 mile range
  • This technology could also be great news for smaller, lighter, and more affordable EVs which have been largely missing from our roads so far

Why are solid state batteries the next big thing?

Toyota recently reported to the Financial Times that it estimates its solid state battery tech will find its way inside a new electric vehicle by 2027. Using these in place of lithium-ion batteries has the potential to halve both the cost and size of electric vehicle battery packs. 

One of the main reasons for this is the replacement of the liquid electrolyte within Li-ion batteries, with a solid electrolyte solution. This does away with the need for safety components related to the liquid solution found within lithium-ion batteries. In addition, Solid state batteries also have a comparatively higher energy density, can be recharged faster, and result in a lower production carbon footprint due to the reduced materials usage.

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A red Toyota BZ4x driving along an empty country road in the hills

Toyota has noticeably lagged behind the likes of Tesla and the Volkswagen group in adopting fully-electric EVs, with its public offerings currently only consisting of its new bZ4X SUV and electric Proace vans. The emergence of solid state battery solutions could help the company bring iterations of cars such as its pint-sized ICE-powered Aygo into the electric age.

What could this technology mean for the wider industry of small EVs?

Toyota’s claim of a possible 745 mile range within a solid state battery-based car would be a big shake up to the best long range electric cars, and the possibility of faster charging is great news for convincing more to switch to electric cars. 

However, it’s also interesting to think about how this technology could change the face of smaller EVs, as we’ve yet to see a similar sized replacement for the company’s ICE-powered Aygo. Looking at other manufacturers, the current Mini Electric has a relatively small lithium-ion battery, with a quoted range of 145 miles. One of the reasons BMW chose to keep it small was to keep the weight and size down, maintaining the handling characteristics that made previous models so popular.

A grey Mini Electric driving along a waterfront

A solid state iteration in the future could theoretically keep weight down, while maintaining or increasing range. That being said, the upcoming Mini Electric maintaining a Li-ion solution is expected to add around 100 miles on top of the current model.

Toyota are keeping their options open too, and are by no means resigning Lithium-ion batteries to the history books:

“There is also room for improvement for liquid-based batteries. The crux of the EV battery competition will ultimately be the value added on the car as a product and how much we can control the overall volume of batteries and how effectively we can use them.”

Hiroki Nakajima, Chief Technology Officer, Toyota

It remains to be seen whether Toyota will open up this technology for other manufacturers to use. Mercedes, Nissan, and BMW, just to name a few, are all investing in Solid state battery solutions too.

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