Toyota is one of numerous automakers and other companies chasing the holy grail of battery technologies: solid-state batteries. According to remarks from Gill Pratt, Toyota's chief scientist and head of the Toyota Research Institute, we're going to see such a battery from the automaker by 2025.
But Toyota doesn't plan on building an EV with the battery.
Instead, Pratt told Autoline on Thursday the company will shove the solid-state battery into a hybrid vehicle. Yes, a solid-state battery and internal-combustion engine working together. It may seem counterintuitive, but Pratt said there's sound reasoning for it: Lithium-ion batteries aren't at a price parity with the internal-combustion engine, let alone solid-state batteries. The thinking is to produce the benefits of such a battery, but combine it with hybrid technology to keep the price down on a production vehicle.
Further, using solid-state tech in a hybrid will provide Toyota valuable insight before it uses the batteries in purely electric cars. Pratt reiterated the batteries charge and discharge in a different way compared to lithium-ion batteries. Hybrids will provide a perfect test for the technology before the automaker gets in too deep with a solid-state battery powered EV.
In the past, Toyota as a company said it does want to look into this battery type with a hybrid application first. Specifically, it said, "One of the reasons that Toyota is starting with HEVs is because it wants to introduce solid-state batteries to the market as soon as possible, gain customer feedback, and continue to evolve them."
We shouldn't lose sight that this is a super aggressive timetable for the technology in the grand scheme of things. Solid-state batteries have eluded engineers for years now with no good way to bring them to production at scale and appropriate cost. However, by the middle of this decade, Toyota may be ready to change that.