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Toyota touts solid-state battery breakthrough

Animated illustration of a charging battery stylied as a neon light.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Toyota says it's had a technology breakthrough around producing a solid-state battery, which will enable the Japanese auto giant to mass-produce these new batteries in electric vehicles in just four to five years.

Why it matters: Solid-state batteries have been the energy-storage holy grail for years, and if a company can commercialize the technology soon it would help bring electric vehicles to the masses.

Driving the news: A battery expert at Toyota said the company has been able to simplify the production process of materials for new solid-state batteries, the Financial Times reported.

  • Toyota said the development will enable it to manufacture an electric vehicle that can have a range of 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) and can charge in 10 minutes or less by 2027 at the earliest.
  • Solid-state batteries use a solid polymer for the electrolyte and a lithium metal for the anode part of the battery.

The big picture: Toyota has been slower than rivals to transition to all-electric vehicles, and a key battery advancement could help the company compete.

  • It also could be seen as a Hail Mary effort, in an attempt to remain relevant as companies like Tesla scale up EV production dramatically.

Reality check: Solid-state batteries have been under development at both big battery makers and startups for years, and new battery technologies take a long time to achieve mass production.

  • Sony commercialized the first lithium-ion battery in 1991 and it's taken close to three decades for those batteries to get low-cost enough to power today's electric vehicle market.
  • Ergo, don't be surprised if Toyota misses its new timeline for its solid-state batteries.

What's next: Meanwhile, automakers and battery manufacturers across the globe are investing billions of dollars into getting an edge in the race to electrify transportation.

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