There are signs things are looking up for 2021.
COVID-19 stalled a groundbreaking advancements in the development of electric cars, Toyota’s solid-state battery.
The Japanese giant was due to unveil a working prototype of its new electric-car tech at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, which was cancelled due to the pandemic. But according to Asian business publication, the Nikkei, this is now due some next year.
A solid state battery is a huge advancement over the current lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars.
In simple terms, a solid-state battery is smaller, faster to charge, more energy dense and less likely to catch fire than current batteries. The main reason is because the battery uses a solid electrolyte instead of a liquid or gel.
Estimates put range at more than 800km and up to 1000km, with the ability to charge in under 10 minutes.
These advancements would enable electric cars to be more practical than most petrol- or diesel-powered cars.
The batteries provide other benefits such as a roomier cabin and greater efficiency due to a lower vehicle weight.
Toyota is aiming for its next-generation batteries to hold about 90 per cent of their charge for up to 30 years, much longer than lithium-ion examples.
Reports in the Nikkei say Japanese manufacturers are gearing up to start producing the battery tech in greater numbers. The Japanese government has set up a special decarbonising fund worth about $25.5b to help develop the new batteries.
The first working prototype vehicles fitted with a solid state battery are expected to break cover in 2021, although full production isn’t expected for several years at least.
Toyota isn’t the only brand working on the groundbreaking tech.
American electric car start-up Fisker has previously said it has been investing heavily in solid state battery tech. It is looking to fit the new tech to its low-volume EMotion luxury electric sedan.
Volkswagen and Nissan are two other conventional car makers working on developing the new electric car fuel cell, but both are behind Toyota.
Next year promises to be a big year for Toyota as it prepares to show off its first fully-electric vehicle, which will be a RAV4-sized and built on a new scalable electric car platform. This EV will have standard lithium-ion batteries.
This new electric vehicle platform — which has been co-developed with Subaru — will allow Toyota to build multiple vehicles including a compact and large SUV, sedan and potentially a hatch.
It will also allow for vehicles to be front-, rear- or all-wheel drive depending on how many electric motors they have.
Toyota is aiming at the European markets, which are much more advanced than Australia in rolling out regulations and infrastructure to support zero-emissions vehicles.