Toyota says it has made advances in solid-state battery research that will enable it to build battery packs that can charge in ten minutes and give 745 miles of range. The world’s biggest carmaker is playing catch-up having been left behind in the race to electrify new cars before internal combustion engines are phased out in key markets. Its head of R & D for carbon neutrality, Keiji Kaita, says Toyota is also aiming to halve its batteries’ size, weight and cost. Most EV batteries currently use liquid rather than solid electrolytes. Talk of solid-state battery breakthroughs is cheap and hitherto has generally been a prelude to disappointment because of cost barriers and practical obstacles to mass production. If Toyota has overcome these obstacles, Professor David Bailey of the University of Birmingham tells the Guardian, “it could be a game-changer” – because a cheap, small, light battery that charges fast and erases range anxiety is “the holy grail of battery vehicles”. Toyota bet big in the 1990s on hydrogen fuel cells that never caught on in cars. If this breakthrough proves real, Tesla will have serious competition for the first time in its history.
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