Back in 2020, Toyota revealed the world’s first prototype electric vehicle that ran only on solid-state batteries (based on the LQ concet), announcing that it would show a production-preview concept/prototype (expected to be some kind of crossover) one year later.
We’ve still yet to see that vehicle, most likely due to the combined effect of the pandemic and semiconductor shortage on Toyota and the industry as a whole, but the Japanese giant is still a solid-state leader and it is still on track to become the first to sell a vehicle equipped with this technology.
This is according to a Nikkei Asia study that also states the global solid-state scene is dominated by Japanese players, with South Korean companies following at some distance. The source notes that Toyota’s lead comes thanks to the multitude of patents it holds, an impressive 1,331, followed by Panasonic with 445 patents and Idemitsu Kosan with 272 patents (mainly related to the metals that go into this type of batteries); Samsung is in fourth spot.
Gallery: 2019 Toyota LQ concept
It’s worth noting that Toyota and Panasonic are working together on solid-state batteries, after they set up a joint venture in 2020. The automaker apparently increased the number of patents it held between 2016 and 2020 by 40 percent.
Toyota plans to install its first solid state battery in a hybrid due to be launched in the next few years. We haven’t had any confirmation of previous reports which stated that the next-gen Prius would be the first commercially available car with a solid-state battery, but it still seems like a solid bet.
The concept that previews Toyota’s first solid-state EV, the crossover that the carmaker said it would unveil in 2021, will probably be shown in the not too distant future, although the production model will probably only arrive after the middle of the decade. The main factor preventing solid-state tech from becoming mainstream is, of course, cost.
Korean corporations are gaining ground, according to the source. There is also a multitude of other companies doing solid-state battery research, with the most recent player being Vietnam's VinFast, which recently announced it was going to invest in a battery startup called ProLogium.