Can Toyota Deliver the Promise of 900-Mile EVs?
Last week, Toyota claimed it was working on solid-state battery technology that could deliver 900-mile EVs by the end of the decade. Considering Toyota’s hesitation to go all-in on electric, it’s striking news from a surprising source. It sounds like a far-fetched concept considering today’s electric vehicles top out at around 350 miles, but there is some science to back up Toyota’s bold claims.
Solid-state batteries are the future of EVs
There are a lot of options out there for EV batteries, but most agree that solid-state batteries will be the future – once we can figure them out. Toyota is working on exactly that, and it’s this research that the heart of its 900-mile EV range claims.
At their core, solid-state batteries are a solution to the energy density problem that has plagued EVs from day one. Today’s long-range EVs use massive battery packs to achieve the same range as their gas-powered counterparts. This new battery technology is both safer and more compact than the current Lithium batteries, which allows for both improved range and easier packaging of components.
It’s no secret that Lithium batteries are susceptible to catching fire when damaged, and solid-state batteries don’t have this problem. In addition, the higher energy density means more freedom of design and placement to continue the further evolution of vehicle design.
Finally, analysts estimate that solid-state batteries offer a 30% cost reduction when compared to current battery technology.
Toyota’s future EV lineup includes bold range targets
The path to 900-mile Toyota EVs extends to 2028, but the brand has set intermediate targets that we should see on roads in the near future. The brand’s next-gen Lithium batteries are coming for the 2026 model year and offer 20% more range for 20% less. There is also a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery on the way the further reduces costs by another 20%.
The tech includes a bipolar battery structure with a nickel cathode that improves the efficiency and thermal capacity of battery packs to allow for longer range and quicker charge times. According to Electrek, it would allow for fast charging at a rate of 20 minutes from 10% to 80%.
Will Toyota deliver on its EV promises?
As great as nearly 1000 miles of electric range would be, it’s also hard to take Toyota’s word on this. The brand is notoriously hesitant to adopt EVs, instead opting for a mix of hybrid, gas, and electric vehicles. There’s nothing wrong with that, especially considering the brand’s mainstream status. But former CEO and current board member Akio Toyoda has been an outspoken critic of EVs. He even had this to say at an automaker’s conference in 2022:
“Just like the fully autonomous cars that we are all supposed to be driving by now, EVs are just going to take longer to become mainstream than media would like us to believe.”
The comparison to Tesla is more than ironic, considering Toyota’s bold claims about EVs in the past.
Much like the American EV automaker, Toyota has made some big promises and then failed to deliver. But instead of autonomous driving capabilities or a low-poly pickup truck, Toyota’s failed promises surround its solid-state battery advancements.
As early as 2014, the Japanese automaker promised to deliver high-performance solid-state batteries by 2020. In 2020 it pushed the deadline back to 2025. And now its claimed target is 2027 for the 2028 model year.
You could be forgiven if you aren’t quite ready to buy Toyota’s 900-mile EV claims at face value.
A change in leadership at Toyota
Critically, Akio Toyoda left the post of CEO in 2022. And more recently, Bloomberg reports that shareholders are voted to remove Toyoda and others from their seats on the Toyota board of directors as a result of Toyota’s slow adoption of EVs. Ultimately, Toyoda retained his position, but weaker support indicates dissatisfaction with some of Toyota’s key stakeholders.
Not only are there climate concerns, but as shareholders, the voting parties are also concerned about giving up profits by being late to the EV marketplace. And while Akio Toyoda is off the hot seat for now, Toyota’s new CEO has already promised a new EV platform and 10 new models by 2026.
If the culture surrounding EVs is changing, then Toyota certainly has the brainpower and capital to make big EV breakthroughs. This is the brand that pioneered the mainstream hybrid, after all. Whenever solid-state EV batteries show up, they’ll be a seachange for how automakers build and sell electric vehicles. Whether Toyota will be leading the charge remains to be seen.