Toyota (7203.T) and oil refiner Idemitsu Kosan (5019.T) said on Thursday they would tie up to develop and mass produce all-solid-state batteries, in another example of new partnerships being forged amid the disruptive shift to electric vehicles. The companies aim to commercialize next-generation batteries in 2027-28, followed by full-scale mass production. Solid-state batteries can hold more energy than current liquid electrolyte batteries, and automakers expect them to speed the transition to EVs by addressing the vehicles’ limited driving range.
Idemitsu and Toyota will combine their strengths of production finesse and materials development technologies to realize innovations originating in Japan. Together, they will contribute to global carbon neutrality by developing all-solid-state battery technology for various applications and vehicles.
The collaboration focuses on developing mass production technology for sulfide solid electrolytes, promising materials to achieve high capacity and output for BEV batteries. Idemitsu has been researching and developing lithium sulfide, an intermediate material for solid electrolytes, using by-products from petroleum refining. By validating samples at its small pilot facilities, the company aims to develop materials specifications suitable for entities such as car/battery manufacturers. Through the construction and startup of a large pilot facility planned in June 2023, it also seeks to establish mass-production technology for sulfide solid electrolytes.
Toyota has been accelerating the development of pure-battery EVs as part of a strategic pivot to the electric mobility business. It trumpeted a breakthrough in solid-state batteries earlier this year that it said could drastically improve the driving range of future EVs. However, it is not expected to commercialize them until 2025 or later.
Toyota, the world’s biggest automaker by sales, has been slow to adopt EVs but is investing heavily in the vehicles as it sees them as the key to sustainable mobility. It forecasts that EVs will account for half of its global sales by 2050. It also aims to boost profitability by moving to higher-cost vehicles like SUVs. The partnership with Idemitsu will focus on mass-producing high-performance EV batteries that can handle longer trips. The two companies will hold a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday to provide further details.