Toyota's planned solid-state batteries will debut not in an EV, but in an upcoming hybrid, an executive said in a recent interview with Autoline.
The batteries, which are on track for commercialization by 2025, will appear in hybrids first because that allows for a smaller battery pack that's less cost-sensitive, Toyota chief scientist Gill Pratt said.
Hybrids also represent a "tougher test" for solid-state tech because of the higher amount of battery cycling inherent in that use case, Pratt said. As Toyota gains more experience with solid-state battery cells, and as costs come down, the automaker will expand use to all-electric vehicles, he said.
2020 Toyota Prius
One of the claimed benefits of solid-state batteries is greater energy density, but Pratt said Toyota is also hoping that they will reduce charging times. That hasn't been confirmed, as development work is currently focused on solid-state batteries' hybrid rollout, he noted. Quicker charging will also require upgrades to the grid and charging network, he said.
Pratt didn't confirm which model will get solid-state batteries, but the tech could help reinvigorate the hybrid that started it all.
The Toyota Prius was once a hybrid trendsetter, so solid-state cells, some plug-in capability, and a new form might be what it needs to be relevant again.
2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade
Last month Toyota announced plans for 30 EVs globally by 2030, unveiling a dozen concepts previewing some of those models. The automaker has said affordability, not range, will be the emphasis for its future EVs. Toyota's first mass-market EV is the BZ4X crossover, which is also expected to serve as the basis for the Lexus RZ, for Toyota's luxury brand.
Toyota plans to build batteries in the United States, but these will be initially for hybrids. Will solid-state cells become part of those plans—perhaps as part of Prime plug-in hybrids with even better mpg?