Toyota’s solid-state battery technology will be a low priority compared to hydrogen vehicles in the years ahead.
In a public statement issued earlier this month, Toyota said that it would power over 10,000 vehicles with solid-state batteries by 2030. Meanwhile, Toyota has set a goal to sell over 100,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles annually by 2030. If the company achieves its goals, it will sell 900% more hydrogen cars than solid-state EVs by 2030.
The news underscores the likelihood that Toyota’s solid-state batteries will remain a niche pursuit, primarily limited to low-volume vehicles like sports cars. Meanwhile, hydrogen cars are much more likely to be mass-produced.
Many EV analysts have been far more optimistic about solid-state EVs than hydrogen cars. Solid-state batteries could enable an EV to gain 745 miles (1199 km) of range in just 10 minutes of charging. Most EVs on the market today only have a maximum range of 200 to 300 miles (322 to 483 km).
Hydrogen skeptics also point out that it costs 10 times more to refuel a hydrogen car than it does to charge a battery-powered EV.
Nevertheless, Toyota has already had some success with hydrogen vehicles. The hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai (pictured above) won the World Green Car Award in 2016. In addition, US Mirai sales increased 64% year-over-year in Q2 2023.
Moreover, conventional battery-powered EVs are dependent on lithium-ion batteries. Lithium prices have skyrocketed in recent years due to the metal’s scarcity and the rapidly growing demand for EVs. Lithium prices went up more than twelvefold between January 2021 and November 2022.
Although large lithium deposits have recently been discovered in the United States, mining is likely to be delayed due to protests from environmental activists and local Native American tribes.
By contrast, hydrogen is an inexhaustible element that is universally available.
Therefore, Toyota’s emphasis on hydrogen cars could actually serve as a competitive advantage. If hydrogen cars become more economical than battery electric cars down the road, Toyota will be miles ahead of its competitors.
And if Toyota’s bet on hydrogen doesn’t pay off, it will still be in a position to ramp up production of solid-state EVs.
In October, Toyota announced a partnership with Idemitsu to manufacture a mass-market solid-state battery. Idemitsu has been researching solid-state batteries for decades. Combined, the two companies will own 195 patents, one of the greatest totals of any business partnership in the world.
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