Toyota says that they are currently in production engineering stage of a new type of battery for vehicles, a solid state battery. Production engineering, back in my days when I was working at a Japanese factory in Malaysia meant that the product is out of development and prototype and is currently being tested on a test product line. Mostly to figure out the mass production method and whether it will meet all requirements, whether it may be the performance of the final product or safety and quality. If this is true, Toyota is really close to the mass production of a battery suited for electric cars.
Solid state batteries are not the same as the current semi-liquid state of lithium ion batteries. They contain solid electrodes and solid electrolytes in the battery. This allows the battery to have a faster charging, increased energy density and cycle life, low leakage currents and most importantly, non-flammable material. Sounds like the ideal replacement for lithium ion batteries.
This definitely brings about loads of benefits, especially the longer charge and faster charging time as well as a smaller battery which is what current electric cars have to face. Weight benefits mean better mileage, faster charging time means a better user experience and having a longer charge means the car can travel further. Also, this would mean that the lifespan of the battery is longer which is one of the key worries consumers have especially when it comes to purchasing hybrid vehicles. All of these does lead to a more effective electric car.
If Toyota starts producing all electric car, this will definitely tip the balance from Tesla at the moment as Toyota has the global scale of production of vehicles as well as their supply chain footprint which they can leverage out. This is a definite boost to the overall electric car industry.
Source: Wall Street Journal