Tesla Should Be Worried About Toyota
Forget the 4680; this is the battery breakthrough we have been waiting for.
Toyota was once the face of sustainable transport. Back in 2008, Leonardo DiCaprio used a hybrid Toyota Prius to arrive at the Oscars, shocking the entertainment world and making environmentalism just a bit cooler. But since then, they have massively lagged behind. They avoided the EV revolution like the plague and reluctantly released their first proper EV, the bZ4X, last year, a full 10 years after Tesla’s industry-leading Model S. But, behind closed doors, Toyota has been working on a technology that could help them leapfrog the entire EV industry in one bound and put them ahead of even Tesla. This holy grail of EV technology is a 745-mile capable solid-state battery that can fully charge in 10 minutes and is twice as energy-dense as current cells! So, does this mean Toyota could be a Tesla killer?
Let’s start with what a solid-state battery is. The difference between our current cells and solid-state batteries is quite simple: current cells store their energy in liquid or paste-like electrolytes, whereas solid-state batteries use solid electrolytes, typically made of ceramics. This means they are far more energy-dense and lightweight, as solid electrolytes can contain more energy per volume. Solid electrolytes also tend to have lower resistance than liquid ones, leading to far faster peak charging speeds. Moreover, they also use far less material per kWh thanks to their density. They also use far less energy to manufacture, as no drying or curing has to take place to secure and bond the electrolyte, like with current cells. This means solid-state batteries have the potential to be far cheaper and more eco-friendly than present cells. The cherry on top of this battery cake is that they have the potential to resist the processes that cause battery degradation, meaning they could last far longer than current cells.
So, why don’t we use solid-state batteries already?
Well, while they have been around for years, we haven’t yet figured out all the kinks with solid-state batteries. Using our current methods, they are extremely expensive to make, being up to 5 times more per kWh than current cells. We also haven’t figured out how to make them more robust, meaning…