Japanese government funds project to speed up development

The Japanese government, battery makers and three key automakers (Honda, Nissan and Toyota) have joined forces to develop solid-state lithium-ion batteries.

According to the Nikkei Asian Review collaborative work begins this month with research being spearheaded by the Consortium for Lithium Ion Battery Technology and Evaluation Center (Libtec).

Taking part in the project will be battery makers (Panasonic, GS Yasua), chemical firms (Asahi Kasei, Toray Industries, Kuraray), and automakers (Honda, Nissan, Toyota).

The Japanese government is contributing ¥1.6 billion ($20 million) to the project, and hopes it will return Japanese companies to forefront of the automotive battery market.

In 2013, Japanese companies supplied around 70 per cent of all automotive batteries. In 2016, the country's market share had fallen to 41 per cent, with South Korea and China (now 26 per cent) making inroads.

Above and top: Nissan lithium-ion battery packs.

In a solid-state battery, the liquid electrolyte is replaced with a solid version. This is said to reduce complexity and cost, as well as greatly improving safety and energy density.

Perhaps just as importantly, recharge times are said to drop from hours to minutes.

Libtec is hoping to develop a solid-state battery unit capable of delivering 550km of driving range by 2025, and 800km by 2030.

Although it is generally seen as a leader in the solid-state field, Toyota isn't close to bringing the technology into production. Last year, a report claimed Toyota was hoping to have an electric vehicle with solid-state batteries on the market by 2022.