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Toyota's New Solid-State Battery Could Make Its Way To Cars By 2020 (techcrunch.com) 69

According to the Wall Street Journal, Toyota is in production engineering for a solid state battery, which uses a solid electrolyte instead of the conventional semi-liquid version used in today's lithium-ion batteries. The company said it aims to put the new tech in production electric vehicles as early as 2020. TechCrunch reports: The improved battery technology would make it possible to create smaller, more lightweight lithium-ion batteries for use in EVs, that could also potentially boost the total charge capacity and result in longer-range vehicles. Another improvement for this type of battery would be longer overall usable life, which would make it possible to both use the vehicles they're installed in for longer, and add potential for product recycling and alternative post-vehicle life (some companies are already looking into putting EV batteries into use in home and commercial energy storage, for example).
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Toyota's New Solid-State Battery Could Make Its Way To Cars By 2020

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @07:55PM (#54878813)

    Cool story, Bro. Except the reason we don't have solid electrolyte batteries is because the blow themselves to smithereens (along with everything around them) if you attempt to charge them at low temperature. They also suffer from serious sinusoidal deplanaration if their cardinal grammeters are not absolutely perfectly synchronized. To top it all off, a solid electrolyte battery can't even convert energy through the modial interaction between magnetoreluctance and capacitive duractance, leaving us with the time honored yet ancient tradition of using the relative motion of conductors and fluxes.

    • by DontBeAMoran ( 4843879 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @08:05PM (#54878871)

      They also suffer from serious sinusoidal deplanaration if their cardinal grammeters are not absolutely perfectly synchronized. To top it all off, a solid electrolyte battery can't even convert energy through the modial interaction between magnetoreluctance and capacitive duractance, leaving us with the time honored yet ancient tradition of using the relative motion of conductors and fluxes.

      I'm not sure if what you said is true or 100% made-up bullshit. Now I understand why they don't put more work into Star Trek techno-bable scripts.

    • by oddtodd ( 125924 )

      Actually, I read about a solid state battery being developed in a lab not too long ago. Can't remember where... gettin old is a biatch

    • by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @08:12PM (#54878917)

      Sounds like a lot of problems.
      Best to go with dilithium crystals.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Can we please mod this down to -1?

      None of this is true besides the garbage about "a solid electrolyte battery can't even convert...", which it can't, and modial isn't even a word.

    • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @08:58PM (#54879201)

      Cool story, Bro. Except the reason we don't have solid electrolyte batteries is because the blow themselves to smithereens (along with everything around them) if you attempt to charge them at low temperature. They also suffer from serious sinusoidal deplanaration if their cardinal grammeters are not absolutely perfectly synchronized. To top it all off, a solid electrolyte battery can't even convert energy through the modial interaction between magnetoreluctance and capacitive duractance, leaving us with the time honored yet ancient tradition of using the relative motion of conductors and fluxes.

      Great, another AC troll on the site. The encabulation technology that resolves the thermal and deplanaration issue has be around since WW2. In 1962 a series of discoveries by GE enabled them to create the turboencabulator, [wikipedia.org] the predecessor to the modern microencabulator. And really, magnetoreluctance? Magnetoconstrictors are practically naturally occurring. Be gone, foul beast!

      I swear it's like half the people on the internet don't have a clue about what they are talking about!

    • I suspected you were joking on the second sentence but that last one really took the cake. :-)

  • Some companies are already looking into putting EV batteries into use in home and commercial energy storage, for example.

    Wow Darrell, are you a detective?

  • Yawn. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @09:28PM (#54879365) Homepage

    Tesla sells actual electric cars that people get in a waiting list years in advance to buy.
    GM sells actual electric cars that people generally yawn at.
    Toyota: Our lab-scale battery is gonna be a big hit in 2020!

    Solid state batteries are no real magic. It just means that you're using a solid electrolyte rather than a liquid one plus a membrane. They offer some nice benefits (such as resistance to dendrite punctures), but they hardly change the world on their own. They're a popular choice for working towards lithium-air batteries, which would be revolutionary, but there's no way anyone (including Toyota) is going to be mass-producing mature lithium-air batteries in 2020.

    But anyway... if you're not going to make EVs, I guess you can still make press releases about hypothetical EVs. Seems to be a popular alternative these days.

    And for the record... energy density really isn't the issue; Tesla has shown that you can get quite good range even with today's batteries without having your vehicles be excessively heavy (Model S, a bit over 2 tonnes; Model 3, a bit under). Cost per kilowatt hour is the issue. Tesla is reportedly at $190/kWh now and thinks they'll be at $100/kWh in a few years. But ideally you want even lower than that.

    • Well Toyota did make the Prius so they helped the segment get started. I would say the most meaningful vehicles along the way were probably the Toyota Prius, Nissan Leaf, and now the Chevrolet Bolt and the Tesla Model S.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        Sadly they sat on their asses while the electric vehicle market coasted by. Hybrids are obsolete these days. At the very least they should be PHEVs.

        Lately Toyota (and Honda) have been trying to promote harebrained schemes like hydrogen fuel cell vehicles which nobody thinks as a viable or especially green way of propulsion.

        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Depends on your use case. I need a car I can charge the battery of, and I can't get power to the curb. So for me a Prius would be a much better choice. Unfortunately, I also need a self-driving car...so it'll be a few years.

        • by q4Fry ( 1322209 )

          You can get a PHEV Prius, but iirc its range is abysmal. Perhaps 30km?

    • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @10:57PM (#54879723)
      Cumulative number of Tesla S sold [wikipedia.org] = 150,000
      Cumulative number of Chevy Bolts sold [insideevs.com] = 8,000
      Cumulative number of Chevy Volts sold [gmauthority.com] = 124,000

      Cumulative number of Toyota Prius sold [wikipedia.org] = 4 million
      Cumulative number of Toyota hybrids sold [toyota.com] = 9 million

      In terms of number of battery units produced, Tesla and GM are roundoff error compared to Toyota.

      Tesla sells actual electric cars that people get in a waiting list years in advance to buy.

      That tells you that there's something seriously wrong with the scalability of their production. (If you want to know what the problem is, Tesla relies on selling ZEV credits to other automakers to keep from going bankrupt. But other automakers only need a certain number of ZEV credits each year to comply with CARB regulations. So Tesla has to be careful not to produce too many ZEVs lest they cause the price of ZEV credits to plummet due to oversupply.)

      • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Tuesday July 25, 2017 @11:29PM (#54879811) Journal

        The Toyota vs Tesla numbers is a point well made. However

        Tesla relies on selling ZEV credits to other automakers to keep from going bankrupt. But other automakers only need a certain number of ZEV credits each year to comply with CARB regulations. So Tesla has to be careful not to produce too many ZEVs lest they cause the price of ZEV credits to plummet due to oversupply.

        Can you provide evidence for this? An obvious alternative hypothesis is that Tesla would love to have much higher production, and are working as hard as they can to overcome the financial, organizational and engineering problems to be able to do so. Tesla say they will be soon be producing the model 3 in huge numbers, which means either they are lying, or they are abandoning the ZEV credit plan, or you are plain wrong. (Here [seekingalpha.com] is an article saying they are aiming for 400,000 to 600,000 per year, but also saying they can't realistically get over 230,000, and gives reasons entirely independent of ZEV credits.)

        • by Anonymous Coward

          This is an easily verifiable fact [jalopnik.com]. Tesla relies on California's ZEV credits, and often complains that emissions controls should be stiffer so as to direct more gov credits to himself.

          • by Rei ( 128717 )

            That's so skewed. The next quarter they made almost nothing from ZEV credits. Tesla's gross profit per vehicle [electrek.co] is about 25% on the Model S, and expected to be similar on the Model 3, which are excellent numbers. Damning them for also selling ZEV credits is just stupid.

      • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @04:59AM (#54880535) Homepage

        Deflect much?

        1) The conversation was about electric cars, not hybrids. When someone says "I bought an electric car", they don't mean a hybrid. Toyota has no BEVs, and the longest range PHEV that they have has a whopping 11 miles range, which ranks fifth globally in PHEV/BEV sales, including the Model S which starts at literally over double its price.

        2) Your choice of comparing cumulative numbers to annual sales numbers is ridiculous. Toyota has been selling hybrids since long before Tesla even existed, and Tesla's growth has been exponential, meaning that for most of its history its sales were a fraction of what they were today, which is in turn a fraction of what they'll be next year.

        3) "Battery units" is even more absurd. Toyota has been sitting around on decades-old technology and hardly advancing at all. They got a hit nearly two decades ago and have been milking it ever since. They only even moved to li-ion a couple years ago, only on a minority of their fleet, and their li-ion technology is pathetic. Their drivetrain on all models is obsolete, with a terrible performance to mass ratio vs. what you find in BEVs. There's literally nothing in the EV world of interest coming out of Toyota these days. Seriously, "battery units"? Might as well define lead-acids as "battery units". Or alkaline AAs, for that matter.

        That tells you that there's something seriously wrong with the scalability of their production.

        It's a brand new model. What, do you want a 500k car-a-year factory to just magic itself into existence at full production? What sort of logic train led you to make a statement like that?

        500k cars a year, haven't even had the official full reveal yet (that's on Friday), none in dealerships, no test drives, not even the full options and options pricing announced yet - and they're booked solid until late 2018 at the best, probably early 2019. Meanwhile, Toyota piddles along on hybrids without pushing the tech envelope.

        If you want to know what the problem is, Tesla relies on selling ZEV credits to other automakers to keep from going bankrupt.

        If you want to know what the problem is, it's you going off about things that you don't know about. First off, ZEV credits sell for pennies on the dollar. The revenue from them is so small that Tesla doesn't even break it out on their budget sheet anymore. Secondly, Tesla's total sales revenue is in turn small compared to the investment that has gone into going from a luxury car maker to a mass-market midrange car maker. Again, you seem to have this notion that 500k car-a-year factories magic themselves into existence. They don't.

        Tesla has to be careful not to produce too many ZEVs lest they cause the price of ZEV credits to plummet due to oversupply.

        The reality is precisely the opposite. Tesla is undergoing an exponential scaleup, and has been throughout its entire existence.

      • by DrXym ( 126579 )
        The Prius has been on sale for 20 years so culmulative sales aren't exactly instructive. I bet Prius sales are falling off a cliff of late because people inclined to buy a Prius have many better vehicles to choose from these days.
        • by haruchai ( 17472 )

          The Prius has been on sale for 20 years so culmulative sales aren't exactly instructive. I bet Prius sales are falling off a cliff of late because people inclined to buy a Prius have many better vehicles to choose from these days.

          Toyota's target sales for the 1st year of their Prius Prime are 20k for USA & 30k for Japan.
          Tesla's deliveries of the Model 3 could come close to the combined total before the end of 2017 and will almost certainly double it before the start of Q3 2018.

          An interesting fact regarding the Prius & the Model S is that almost 16% of Model S buyers up to Spring 2014 were Prius-only drivers, more than either BMW or Mercedes-Benz
          https://www.wired.com/2014/03/... [wired.com]

      • Crap "analysis" (Score:5, Interesting)

        by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @06:23AM (#54880765)

        In terms of number of battery units produced, Tesla and GM are roundoff error compared to Toyota.

        Several issues with your "analysis". 1) The Tesla Model S is a $70-100K car so not exactly and apples to apples comparison 2) The cars you are comparing have been on the market for 6 years or less versus 20 years for the Prius. Of course cumulative sales will be bigger for the Prius. Do you know how many Prius were sold in the first 5 years on the market worldwide? 81,700 [wikipedia.org]. That means that both the Volt and the Model S outsold the Prius over the first several years of their availability. 3) The Bolt has been on the market for a year. Are you seriously going to compare cumulative sales of a vehicle that has been on the market for a year to one that has been on the market for 20?

        That tells you that there's something seriously wrong with the scalability of their production.

        Not even remotely. I design manufacturing production systems for a living. Tesla scaling production to deliver cars more quickly would be a substantial cost with no obvious benefit to Tesla either short or long term. The reason they haven't done it isn't that they cannot do it but because they have chosen not to do it. As long as customers are willing to wait for delivery it would be enormously stupid of Tesla to devote that much capital to upgrading assembly lines and supply chains. There is no evidence to suggest that faster production would result in enough marginal extra sales to be worth the expense. They need to produce cars fast enough to keep their customers happy but any faster is wasting money. So far Tesla customers clearly are ok with waiting a bit.

        (If you want to know what the problem is, Tesla relies on selling ZEV credits to other automakers to keep from going bankrupt. But other automakers only need a certain number of ZEV credits each year to comply with CARB regulations. So Tesla has to be careful not to produce too many ZEVs lest they cause the price of ZEV credits to plummet due to oversupply.

        Wrong again. Tesla is not throttling production for that reason and they certainly aren't calibrating it to demand for emissions credits. That would not be a sustainable business model and Elon Musk certainly knows that. The reason Tesla isn't profitable and why they produce at the rate they do is much simpler. They simply lack the economies of scale enjoyed by major auto firms. That fact alone is why you haven't seen a major new car company in decades. It's hard to achieve minimum efficient scale [wikipedia.org] in the auto industry, particularly with a wildly non-traditional product offering. They have to reinvest all their capital (and then some) into building the company. Production lines to make cars are enormously expensive. Companies like Ford and GM and Toyota have had years to develop the scale and balance sheets necessary to bankroll such investments. Tesla is still a small young company with a weak balance sheet and it will take time to get to where the major auto makers are now.

        Pretty much all small companies have the same problem including mine. My company makes auto parts and we could easily bring in enough people and machines to deliver products to our customers in a few days. But the expense would be enormous and we would immediately become uncompetitive on price. We also could produce products ahead of time and inventory them but that means we tie up vast amounts of capital in inventory and storage. Producing products faster than your customers demand them is wasteful, expensive, and stupid.

      • The comulative battery capacity sold puts Tesla S ahead of Toyota Prius.

        4 million cars (in 20 years) with the majority having 0.8-1.3 kWh battery capacity (with a few phev at 4.4 kWh). 150 000 Tesla S with between 60 and 100 kWh capacity in each car puts them well ahead.
    • Seemes you missed the fact that Toyota is the world leader in hybrids and plug in hybrids.

    • Re:Yawn. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nojayuk ( 567177 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:56AM (#54880429)

      No, energy density is the key issue for electric vehicles, mass as well as volume but mostly mass. Old-style electric vehicles before lithium-ion batteries of various flavours were developed used bulky and heavy lead-acid and NiMH battery systems which didn't provide sufficient range due to their physical limitations. Li-ion batteries are typically twice the Watt-hours per kilogram figure of older battery tech.

      Even now a modern electric vehicle's battery pack makes up a large part of the volume and mass of the car for the range it provides. It's sufficiently small though to make them viable although the manufacturers want to improve that even more to reduce the cost of manufacture and extend the range between charges.

      I'm usually very cynical about "Biggest Battery Breakthrough Since Breakfast" stories but there are a few things about this one that make me sit up and take note. One is that it's Toshiba who have a track record of delivering new battery tech such as SCiB, a rapid-charge battery (zero to full in ten minutes) with very good operating life of several thousand cycles despite being fast-charged. The other is that they're working on building out production of this new battery (which might be based on SCiB) rather than announcing lab results and talking a lot about nanostructures and the like while scrabbling around for more development funding.

      I'm speculating here but it's possible the new Toshiba batteries will provide a fast-charge capability since they are supposedly solid-electrolyte. Fast-charge in the tank-of-gas time range period (five minutes or so) would mitigate range anxiety to a large extent if the infrastructure is in place to provide the large amounts of power to deliver fast-charge.

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        No, energy density is the key issue for electric vehicles

        Saying that doesn't make it true. What about the 100D's 335mi range do you think is too small to be mass-market? Is the 100D too heavy to be practical? Of course not; the Model S handling has been acclaimed. So why doesn't everyone buy one? Because they don't have six figures lying around for a car purchase.

        Getting the price down is the barrier. Tesla's sales are going up by an order of magnitude going from a ~$65k minimum price vehicle (Model S 7

        • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

          I mentioned battery density and weight as it was the major factor preventing the uptake of electric vehicles in the past, before lithium-ion was able to provide sufficient energy storage in a smaller weight (and volume) of batteries. I first got interested in EVs back in the 1970s when NiCd was about the best you could get for such applications and a 100km range was considered impressive. Back then increasing the Wh/kg figure was the target to aim for. Nowadays any new or improved battery tech for vehicles

        • Sweet jesus, you are a rabid Tesla fan aren't you? The Tesla way is the only way because Elon made it thus!

          The fact that Toyota is actually in production planning shows that this probably isn't some theoretical mumbo-jumbo, or something that requires perfect laboratory conditions to work. Very likely that Toyota has more or less stagnated with the Prius because they knew this new battery was coming.
        • by HiThere ( 15173 )

          Yes, you are speculating. There is nothing about a solid electrolyte that means that you can have faster charge rates. Often it's just the opposite.

          Perhaps that it correct, but it seems to me that a solid electrolyte battery might well be lighter (and tip resistant), so it might greatly facilitate a battery exchange approach. OTOH, that always bothers me, because unlike gas, which is nearly standardized, batteries degrade with repeated charges.

      • by haruchai ( 17472 )

        "if the infrastructure is in place to provide the large amounts of power to deliver fast-charge"

        That's something that a lot of EV proponents overlook - how much power does it take to charge a battery as quickly as you can fill a gas tank - it's a LOT. A 5-min charge from empty to full for a Leaf's 24 kWh battery would be a steady 288 kW; to do the same for Tesla's largest pack, which is 100 kWh would need 1.2 MW!!
        You're out of your mind if you think there'll be tens or hundreds of thousands of 1-2 MW char

        • by Rei ( 128717 )

          Supercharger V2, of which there are thousands deployed and thousands more in construction (with a minimum of two chargers per site), are 145kW. Without any problem to the grid. Supercharger V3 is going to be over 350kW (exact power has not been announced yet). In order to move to the higher capacity, V3 chargers will have a battery buffer, and thus stress the grid less than V2. That is to say, they'll trickle charge from the grid (and their solar awnings, which Tesla is looking to make standard), then surge

  • It's the battery tech ... Goodenough? Get it? Eh? Damn crickets, drowning out my applause.
  • After they spent millions and partnered with Tesla to develop an electric RAV-4 [wikipedia.org] they discontinued it even though it meant paying a penalty in California. My bet is that some exec got himself a private island in the Caribbean, courtesy of your neighborhood oil cartel. I do not expect any innovation from Toyota in the EV department, other than to encumber the technology with patents.
  • by OpenSourced ( 323149 ) on Wednesday July 26, 2017 @03:51AM (#54880419) Journal

    as early as 2020.

    I don't get used to those kind of years being "early". They always seem far in the distant future.

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