While it’s unclear which company will win the race to put solid-state batteries in a production car, Toyota and research partner Panasonic currently have the lead in patents related to the technology, Nikkei Asia reported Thursday.
Along with Tokyo-based research firm Patent Consult, Nikkei
Toyota was the clear leader with 1,331 known patents, followed by Panasonic with 445 patents. In comparison, the third-place company—Idemitsu Kosan—holds 272 patents, according to the report.
2023 Toyota bZ4X Limited AWD
It’s worth noting that patents are a good way to judge research and development activity, but they’re no strong indication of how far along a company actually is in bringing a particular technology to production. Many other automakers and battery suppliers are also investing in solid-state battery research, lured by claims of greater energy density.
Toyota began researching solid-state batteries in the 1990s, according to Nikkei
Toyota has confirmed at a couple of points that the tech is under development and scheduled for a production model around the middle of the decade. Earlier this year it revealed the first application will be a hybrid, not an EV.
2022 Toyota Prius Nightshade
Meanwhile, Nissan is looking to solid-state batteries as a key to making affordable EVs viable across a broader range of vehicle types, including pickup trucks and SUVs. Earlier this year it announced a prototype production facility for solid-state battery cells—with plans to establish a pilot production line as soon as 2024 in Japan, and market availability in an EV in 2028.
Other automakers—including Honda, BMW, Ford, and Volkswagen—have discussed using solid-state batteries in cars. But so far the only practical use has been in a different type of vehicle. Solid-state cells are already being installed into city buses