Solid-state batteries are seen as the next big thing for electric vehicles, and Toyota will unveil a prototype equipped with such batteries in 2021, according to report by Nikkei Asia. The automaker had previously planned for an unveiling at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, which has been postponed to next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic restricting international travel.

The game-changing technology is said to offer a range of up to 500 km on a single charge, while taking as little as 10 minutes to achieve a full charge. Both are significant improvements over conventional lithium-ion batteries that we have today, and solid-state batteries offer greater safety by having a reduced risk of catching fire.

The report says that Toyota has over 1,000 patents involving solid-state batteries, with plans to being producing battery packs based on the technology in the early 2020s. The company has teamed up with Honda, Nissan, battery makers and the Japanese government to further accelerate the development of solid-state batteries.

In preparation for greater solid-state battery uptake, suppliers in Japan have begun setting up the groundwork to streamline production. Companies like Mitsui Mining and Smelting plan to start up a pilot facility to make solid electrolytes, which differs from the aqueous-based electrolytes found in lithium-ion or lithium-polymer cells – for use in solid-state batteries. Other companies also performing development work are Idemitsu Kosan and Sumitomo Chemical.

As mentioned earlier, Toyota isn’t the only one backing solid-state battery tech, as the Japanese government has also been actively supporting domestic development, with plans for a two trillion-yen (around RM78 billion) fund to support decarbonisation technology. This will help drive the setup of mass-production infrastructure, and the government will also assist in procuring the materials needed for solid-state batteries.