Japan’s industry join forces to beat China to solid-state batteries


Japan’s mayor carmakers, Toyota, Nissan and Honda are joining forces to work on solid-state batteries for electric cars. Also Panasonic is part of the consortium consisting of 23 firms in total. They aim to commercialise solid-state batteries in the early 2020ies.

With Japan losing their ground as the world’s largest battery makers to relative newcomers such as CATL or BYD from China, the race is on for the next big jump in battery technology.

Panasonic and Toyota among others bet that solid-state batteries will mean all the difference when moving beyond current lithium technology. They are joined in this belief by 23 players in Japan that have formed a consortium. The alliance is led by New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization, or NEDO. NEDO previously engaged in solid-state battery research primarily with materials makers.

The research management group of the new consortium set a target date of 2022 for the core technologies to be ready for market. In the long term, the project aims to lower cost for solid-state batteries to 10,000-yen ($90) per kilowatt-hour by around 2030. That is about one-third the cost for existing lithium-ion batteries.

Nikkei reports that Japanese companies hold an advantage in solid-state batteries. “A majority of patent applications on all-solid batteries are from Japanese companies,” Kei Hosoi, the NEDO project manager told Nikkei.

Panasonic was quick to add a competitive note. “As a battery maker, we cannot afford to let overseas rivals beat us in all-solid batteries,” said Eiji Fujii, a Panasonic executive officer in charge of resource and energy research.

A recent report from SNE Research had concluded that Panasonic managed to keep its top position in 2017 but its market share plummeted from 31.4 percent to 21.1 percent. This resulted in a new ranking of Panasonic, CATL and BYD as the world’s top 3 battery makers in that order and Panasonic’s market share is projected to fall even further this year.



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