The government and the private sector will cooperate in the development of next-generation batteries for electric vehicles (EV). The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and major auto, material, and electric machinery companies, including Toyota Motor, Asahi Kasei, and Panasonic, will work together from May to promote the development of highly efficient all-solid-state batteries. At present, Japanese companies are losing their share in the market for batteries used in autos to Chinese companies. They are stepping up the development of next-generation batteries to regain lost ground in anticipation of the vigorous growth of EVs.
METI will provide 1.6 billion yen to the Consortium for Lithium Ion Technology and Evaluation Center (LIBTEC) formed by Asahi Kasei, Toray Industries, and other companies. The major automakers, including Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, Panasonic, GS Yuasa, and others, will also participate in the LIBTEC’s development program, which will be formally announced on April 18.
Current lithium-ion batteries use electrolyte solutions while solid electrolytes are envisioned for the next-generation all-solid-state batteries, which are easier to assemble and are safer because leakage of liquids can be eliminated. Also, the smaller number of necessary parts for these batteries will contribute to cost cutting while also enhancing power output.
Toyota is the world’s leader in the development of new EV batteries, but it has yet to achieve commercial production. LIBTEC will serve as a broad framework for cooperation among a wide range of manufacturers. It will promote the development of the technology for using solid materials in batteries, which is more challenging than using liquids, to improve performance, as well as work for setting the standards for the evaluation of safety.
Present EVs using lithium-ion batteries have an average range of 400 kilometers. LIBTEC is aiming at extending this to 550 kilometers by 2025 and to 800 kilometers by 2030 for use by various carmakers.
In order to grab the initiative in the global market, METI is also promoting the application for international standard certification. Specifically, it is considering applying for International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) certification.
METI wants to promote both technical development and the setting of standards for a stronger Japanese presence in the EV market. (Slightly abridged)