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Toyota Forges Ahead To Build A Better Prius With Solid State Battery Technology

Toyota is as innovative as ever. And now it's going to innovate with a Solid State Battery. Looking into the future as they did about 26 years ago, they have a new target, build a better battery. Here is what Toyota is investing in and why it is so important.


Toyota vehicles have changed my life forever. After driving American cars for years, then switching over to a Tacoma, there was no comparison to what was better.

I attribute the success of Toyota to their ability to build a better vehicle, and look into the future and see what transportation will be. Toyota developed the Prius to meet the demands of a growing need to consume energy in our modern world.

I have almost always been impressed with Toyota vehicles, though some are not my cup of tea. I do give them credit for making the best hybrid car on the planet and making the technology sustainable. Toyota is a great company.

In its efforts to meet the needs of a demanding and energy-hungry world, Toyota is investing heavily in newer battery technology. They are doing this to improve all their hybrid models, including Prius. Here is what I can tell you about the investment Toyota is making in Solid-state battery technology and how it can affect the future of the Prius.

What Is Solid-State Battery Technology?
Solid-state battery technology is different from standard Li-ion batteries. The liquid or polymer electrolyte is replaced with a solid electrolyte. The use of a solid does a couple of different things. First, it allows the batteries to be more energy-dense and durable. Second, they can be made smaller and cheaper than conventional Li-ion batteries.

toyota prius solid state battery

A smaller, lighter, and cheaper battery is what we need to make hybrids go further and to make EV's drive longer. Those two reasons alone have sold me on the technology, and it seems to have done the same for Toyota.

Toyota Is Investing Heavily In Solid-State Technology
Hybrid batteries have loads of issues. I hear every day of a new problem arising with aging Ni-MH battery modules that are failing or have failed with many of our Prius and other hybrid vehicles. Prius owners are not taught to maintain our hybrid batteries, and now we are paying the price.

electric car recharge station

Regardless, if Prius owners did or did not maintain the batteries, it would be a matter of time before new technology emerged and replaced the old. Toyota is a bit slower to embrace battery technology, primarily since they have championed hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Now Toyota plans to roll out a comprehensive line of electric vehicles by 2025, and they are doing it with solid-state batteries. They have invested millions into research and development to make this possible.

What This Means For Future Prius Owners
Some people, including me, have called Prius a bridge technology. Meaning that Prius was developed to get us, humans, to the next big thing. Do not get me wrong; I love my Prius and think the world of the car. Afterall it has shaped where we are going with transportation.

2019 Toyota Mirai

I think that Prius will be around for quite some time because Toyota still gets the credits they need to stay compliant with government mandates. I think the brand of Prius is well established, so if Toyota were to kill it off, that could prove disastrous.

I also think that with solid-state batteries in the mix, Prius will see even higher fuel economy numbers and longer EV range times.

Toyota is a smart, forward-thinking company. They make bold moves, and they do it when they can prove what they are doing will benefit the world around them. This is one reason why Prius is such a great brand; Toyota made the car to change the world.

I think Toyota sees solid-state technology as a sound investment for future transportation. Next-generation Prius will also house these batteries and give us an even better version of what we have today. I know that is why Toyota is investing so much money into developing this alongside other major car companies.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to seeing you in the next story, $2,000 Toyota Prius Vs $15,000 Prius Which One Ends Up Being The Better Value.

Watch the 2021 Toyota RAV4 Plug-in Hybrid Prime video presentation and click to subscribe to Torque News Youtube channel for daily automotive news analysis.

Peter Neilson is an automotive consultant specializing in electric cars and hybrid battery technologies. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Automotive Service Technology from Weber State University. Peter is also an Instructor of Automotive Technology at Columbia Basin College. Peter can be reached on Linkedin and you can tweet him at The_hybrid_guy on Twitter. Find his page on Facebook at Certified Auto Consulting


Al D (not verified)    December 28, 2019 - 7:42AM

I won't buy an EV until solid-state batteries come of age and there are enough charging stations wherever I plan on driving. I'd prefer separate stations for solid-state recharging because it would be a real pain having to wait for people to recharge the current batteries. Of course, I'd prefer Toyota to be the solid-state king.

I was planning on keeping my 2015 Camry SE until solid-state came of age, but the specs on the 2021 RAV4 Prime really opened my eyes and I decided it would be a smart move to buy one. It will be eligible for the full $7500 federal tax credit, which will make it a real bargain that will hold its value, even if battery prices are cut by 50% within 5 years, which would depreciate today's EV's rather quickly. Since the battery in the RAV4 Prime is only 1/4 the size of those in EV's with a range exceeding 200 miles, that won't be an issue.

SirSpammenot (not verified)    December 29, 2019 - 12:29PM

In reply to by Al D (not verified)

You are an older man, correct? Don't trust new things readily, brand loyalty shapes your conceivable options...
The problem is that with a hybrid you will still be burning fossil fuel, so you are still participating in sustaining the problem. You will still need oil changes, and tuneups, and brake jobs, for the service life of the car.

Make your car last as long as it can and then switch to an EV when you think Toyota is ready.

My wife and I drove our Model3 from Texas to Colorado this summer, took two different routes there and back, paid $62 for fuel, zero maintenance and saw no real inconvenience with charging via Superchargers. We took back roads too and stayed at a small town restored Train Hotel. 2200mi, and are now planning a jaunt up to Rhode Island in the spring! It's looks fine.

Please wait to replace your vehicle so Toyota will pull it's head out and be part of the solution! The creation of a car is a huge part of the carbon footprint you take on, so burning "less" fuel is not that great a deal in total.. Toyota will catch up with your help and feedback.

Al D (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 1:11PM

In reply to by SirSpammenot (not verified)

I am a retired mechanical engineer. I know the ins and outs of EV's and all the other electrified vehicles. I am not so much loyal to a brand as I am to companies that make superior products at reasonable prices. Toyota just happens to make the best vehicles for me at this time. Most Asian makers make quality vehicles at reasonable prices. Hyundai and Kia are threatening to top Toyota, the way they're rapidly advancing.

Sure, PHEV's will use gasoline instead of relying on charging stations to replenish their batteries. That's a big plus in my book. No need for charging stations. Also a big plus is the ability to plug them in at home or at places other than at charging stations for the purpose of relying as much on electric-only driving as possible. A tank of gas can last a long time if you do a lot of short daily trips around town. They're also great in big, crowded, polluted cities because they don't pollute while in electric-only mode. It wouldn't be difficult to put a big enough battery in future PHEV's to make them exceed 50 miles on electric-only power. And then there's that 550-600 mile range on road trips.

In a quality ICE vehicle, oil and filter changes are every 10k miles. Modern engines need no maintenance other than an air filter change - a 5-minute job. Automatic transmissions need no maintenance. Modern spark plugs last well over 100k miles. No need to tune engines. It's all electronic.

I do not like the current EV's because these Li-ion batteries have to many faults. However, put a Li-ion battery about 1/3 the size of the one in an EV with a 225 mile range and you've got a very quick PHEV. Recharging times are irrelevant in a PHEV, thanks to the engine. Batteries weigh only 1/3 as much in a PHEV, but are offset by the weight of the other components. Still, PHEV's are not going to weigh as much as long-distance EV's in their class. If battery prices keep declining, PHEV's won't depreciate nearly as much as EV's because of their much smaller batteries. And then there's that $7500 federal tax credit. The 2021 RAV4 Prime will be eligible for all of it, making it a real bargain that will hold its value. Ditto for PHEV's from other manufacturers with a battery big enough to get the max. PHEV's with smaller batteries will still get a good chunk of it

When solid-state arrives, not only will EV's benefit, PHEV's, hybrids, and FCV's will also benefit by these lighter, more powerful batteries. And if solid-state batteries are expensive at first, PHEV's that contain them won't see nearly as much of a price increase as EV's. I'll be looking for an EV with a solid-state battery when the time is right. PHEV's will have to be much better than the 2021 RAV4 to keep me out of a solid-state EV. I won't mind paying a premium for a solid-state EV if it's as good as expected.

Joe (not verified)    January 19, 2020 - 10:31PM

In reply to by SirSpammenot (not verified)

Sir, you might want to delete the part about still having to have brake jobs. You might consider that any car will need to have brakes, and therefore need some kind of brake job throughout the life of the vehicle.

Jay (not verified)    March 1, 2020 - 1:41AM

In reply to by SirSpammenot (not verified)

I agree that hybrids can be viewed as no proper solution but we're at least 10 years away from any idealistic EV turning point that is viable for all markets. In particular, Canada in which I am from. We are a country of the north and plagued with the reality of harsh climates. Winter can be brutally cold and unforgiving due to north polar winds. Our country needs tailored engineered vehicle solutions to compensate and this is just not happening right now. The only saving grace would be solid state battery technology because of its solid lithium compound structure that would function efficiently in colder weather situations. Cars are also not a efficient options in Canada. Due to our thaw-frost weather cycle our roads get battered and the maintenance is almost impossible to keep properly paved so our city terrain is horrendous to navigate on during any season. For this reason, most drivers opt for SUV's and this is where the market needs focus. New battery technology needs to be efficient and light weight to gain real-world economy ratings that will thrust buyers into a new and trusted market. Toyota has a lot of expectation to contend with moving forward but I believe they are on the right track in the next years to come between 2020 - 2025. They understand the global market needs and not just silicon valley like Tesla where their vehicle with present lithium batteries perform optimally in warm climates and do little to nothing reliable in Canadian cold weather. On that matter, my biggest concern is for other auto makers that will simply fall behind unless they start merging with prominent solid state battery companies. I'm looking at Mazda, Subaru etc... they won't survive.

Bob Foss (not verified)    April 26, 2020 - 8:24PM

In reply to by Al D (not verified)

I've been driving a Bolt EV for 3 years, and I guess because I get routinely 270-309 miles per charge, I (and most EV drivers here) never have worry about a "charging station"...unless I'd be silly enough to take a long distance road trip with an EV. EVs are really urban/suburban cars. Starting with a full tank (at least 250 miles a day) is more than most people's needs, but if you do routinely travel hundreds of miles, today's EVs are not for you...for 95% of most people's driving, though, they are co much easier to live with than my wife's gas burner (and no waiting in Costco's 20 minute gas line either). Good luck and I will join you on the solid-state front for sure.

Michael Berger (not verified)    December 28, 2019 - 8:58PM

Talk about delay tactics and less then half measures.

Give a model 3 a test drive, you won't buy has again.

Al D (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 1:17PM

In reply to by Michael Berger (not verified)

I wouldn't go near a Model 3. Way too many faults for me. It's mostly a problem with the battery, but I also don't like its interior due to the lack of buttons and switches and that big screen. I don't trust Tesla, either. They may have serious financial problems a few years down the road. Toyota, on the other hand, is a sure bet.

K B (not verified)    December 29, 2019 - 1:52AM

What happened to hydrogen? So much time and money squandered! Not so sure Toyota is a smart company. Tesla cars get better with time. My prius has not gotten an update ever.
My inverter water pump was bad. The dealer misdiagnosed it and wanted to charge me $3500 to replace the whole system. I fixed it myself by replacing the pump with a $50 pump from eBay.
Can't wait to replace my prius with a Tesla Model Y.

Andy Murchison (not verified)    December 29, 2019 - 3:58PM

In reply to by K B (not verified)

Toyota has been heavily funding SSB research for the past decade. They have also pre-announced availability of a Solid State Battety almost every year for the past 5 years. Creating a durable solid state interface that will last for 5-10 years in a battery is very difficult.

Al D (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 1:29PM

In reply to by K B (not verified)

Hydrogen is on the way for big rigs that travel long distances. Nikola Motors hasn't abandoned its plans to lay down most of the hydrogen infrastructure in the U.S, and Canada. The new design of the Toyota Mirai is much better, but it's not likely to sell well. Does that mean Toyota squandered money on it? Not as all. Look at what Toyota has learned from fuel cell technology and is now applying to HFC semis and perhaps other large HFC vehicles in the future.

Too bad you don't realize how much better and how much more trouble-free the 2021 RAV4 Prime will be than the Model Y. Because of the $7500 federal tax credit, the RAV4 Prime will cost a good $18,000 less and hold its value much better. The falling prices of batteries will hurt EV's much more than PHEV's, which have much smaller batteries.

Genghis Roundstone (not verified)    April 6, 2021 - 3:45PM

In reply to by K B (not verified)

Squandered? Sounds like someone didn't do their research. Hydrogen is coming, probably not so much for cars. But for Aircraft, Trains, or any large transportation applications, battery technology will be insufficient.

Ken Shouldice (not verified)    December 29, 2019 - 10:34AM

Interesting wording in this article. It sorta indicates the bias of the author.

I own two Toyotas, and love them, but I am so disappointed in them missing the EV revolution in progress. They are spending millions on here battery technology, and everyone else is spending billions. With the Prius they had such a lead, but they can kick the gasoline addiction.

Al D (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 1:39PM

In reply to by Ken Shouldice (not verified)

Toyota has 233 solid-state related patents and applications, far more than anyone. They also have a limited supply of batteries and are using all of them in their PHEV's and hybrids. That will soon change as the deal with Panasonic starts paying off.

Toyota is bypassing the 'crappy battery' EV non-revolution. I'm glad they did. The real EV revolution begins when solid-state batteries come of age at reasonable prices. Toyota appears to be in good position for it. Until then, the current Li-ion batteries are fine for PHEV's and hybrids because there's no need to visit charging stations to recharge them. They also boost speed, range and mpg.

Bill (not verified)    December 29, 2019 - 10:43AM

It would be noted that the Audi P18 E-tron concept car with a solid state battery was shown at Monterey in 2018, and that Audi-Volkswagen is actively pursuing solid state batteries as well. That both Japanese and the a German consortia are both seriously pursuing solid state batteries bodes well. The current common wisdom is that all parties are as of 2020 are still about five years away from production of solid state batteries in large volume. Hopefully, rapid charging without battery degradation will make similar progress in the same time frame. Drivers aren’t going to be thrilled having to wait around for an hour and a half for a 200 KWH battery to charge. (True, that is only necessary on long trips, as at-home trickle charging at a 5-10 KW rate is fine for everything else.)

SirSpammenot (not verified)    December 29, 2019 - 12:01PM

Come on Toyota! Even looking into the future you are still years behind the market now. And alienating your own Prius crowd by supporting lower fuel economy standards? This hedge on Solid State is a stalling tactic. We see right through it. We know you can do better, so... Please do better.

Al D (not verified)    December 30, 2019 - 1:47PM

Toyota knows what it's doing despite a misstep here and there. They know these lousy batteries are best for hybrids and PHEV's because there is no need to visit charging stations in such vehicles. Also, the increasing demand and profits are there. I want Toyota to be first with solid-state, of course.