It’s common for companies to espouse green policies in public, while privately pursuing opposite goals—but Toyota turns this familiar equation on its head. Other automakers tout their enthusiasm for EVs to the media, while pushing gas-guzzling SUVs to their customers. Toyota’s leaders speak against EVs in public, and the company actively lobbies against government support for electrification. Back in the labs, however, Toyota’s engineers are researching cutting-edge EV technology.
Believe it or not, Toyota is by far the leading holder of solid-state battery patents, according to a recent study by Nikkei. Other Japanese companies are also among the top patent-holders in this space.
Solid-state batteries for EVs are still in the prototype stage, but they’re widely expected to be the next big thing, thanks to their greater range, faster recharge times and reduced fire risk.
Nikkei partnered with Tokyo research company Patent Result to pore over global patent applications related to solid-state batteries, and found that Toyota is the leader, with 1,331 known patents. Panasonic took second place with 445 patents, and another Japanese firm, Idemitsu Kosan, came in third with 272 patents. Overall, Japanese companies occupied six of the top 10 rankings.
Toyota has researched solid-state batteries since the 1990s, and now holds patents in a wide range of applications, including battery structure, material and manufacturing processes. In 2020, the automaker demonstrated a running prototype vehicle powered by a solid-state battery. That same year, Toyota and Panasonic established a joint venture, and the companies are working together to develop solid-state technology.
Toyota says it plans to launch a hybrid vehicle with a solid-state battery by 2025. Nissan and Honda plan to release solid-state EVs in the latter half of the decade. Volkswagen has also announced plans to launch models with solid-state batteries.
Source: Nikkei Asia