Will the arrival of solid state batteries for electric cars from Toyota – expected in 2020 – sound the death knell for Tesla?
We’ve been following Toyota’s mission to develop Solid State batteries for electric cars ever since we discovered, back in 2011, that Toyota were working on developing solid state batteries in collaboration with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization.
Toyota didn’t make any sort of song and dance about their plans, and, in public at least, were quite scathing about EVs in general, shelving plans for Toyota EVs in 2012 and concentrating on their very successful hybrid powertrains instead.
But despite a public declaration that hybrids are the future, Toyota has continued its mission to develop solid state batteries and, in 2016, announced they would be delivering a range of EVs from 2020.
Now, as we revealed earlier this month, Toyota plans to reveal a car powered by solid state batteries ahead of the Tokyo Olympics next year, and although it may not be production ready, we can’t imagine Toyota ‘Doing a Tesla’ and showcasing something that’s effectively ‘vapourware’.
So where does that leave Tesla?
Tesla’s meteoric rise and stock market valuation is based on a number of factors – including Elon Musk’s chutzpah and a technology edge – but there are no signals Tesla is anywhere close to solid state batteries. If they were, can we imagine Musk not trumpeting its arrival from the rooftops?
With a solid state battery from Toyota offering much lower production costs and a far greater range, from smaller batteries, the writing seems to be on the wall for Tesla.
Thus far, Tesla has managed to deliver batteries with a technology edge, and its huge Gigafactory, run with Panasonic, is there to deliver a huge stream of batteries for the ever-increasing production of Tesla EVs.
But it looks like Panasonic has now woken up and smelled the move from Toyota, entering a joint venture with Toyota earlier this year to deliver next-gen batteries and is going cold on Tesla, declaring it would make no further investment in Tesla’s Gigafactory.
All of which could signal a forthcoming perfect storm of problems for Tesla.