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Toyota Has Twice As Many Solid-State Battery Patents As Anyone Else

With 1,331 solid state battery patents, Toyota means business about the future.
The Toyota LQ Concept car, which is shaped a little bit like a sci-fi egg

Toyota is serious about solid-state batteries. It sent a prototype vehicle out on roads powered by one last year, and among its $13.6 billion in investments, there’s plenty of solid-state technology. According to a Nikkei study released Thursday, Toyota has amassed almost three times as many patents in the technology as any other maker.

The study, conducted with a Tokyo-based research company called Patent Results, showed that Japanese manufacturers register more solid-state patents than other companies. Toyota is ahead of everyone, including Panasonic, one of its battery partners.

Toyota registered 1,331 solid-state battery-related patents, according to the study. Panasonic is a distant second in the patent stakes with just 445 patents, ahead of third-placed Idemitsu Kosan, which holds 272.

Idemitsu Kosan is an oil refining company, with most of its patents around materials for making solid-state batteries; Panasonic is more occupied with cell design and battery construction. Toyota’s haul, though, is a broad mix.

Reading through the patents filed to the World Intellectual Property Organization, show they’re not just for stuff that’s relevant on a tertiary level. Many patents are for specific designs for solid-state batteries or solid electrolytes. There are also patents related to charging and charge protection and a small number are for coatings or elements of the cell’s construction, like metal films placed directly into the solid electrolyte.

But a really, really big number is for straight-up battery designs in every size, from relatively small device batteries through to the sort of size that would power an EV. Toyota is investing in technologies to make sure it has a solution within reach to whatever it wants to build, it seems.

It’s far from the only car company investing in solid-state batteries. BMW and Hyundai have looked to U.S. companies for their own solid-state technologies, and the sector is keen to find a way to mass-produce solid-state batteries at a scale for cars. The advantages are pretty major: reduced time for charging, stability, and safety—all improvements you want in an electric vehicle.

In terms of patents, though, it’s all focussed on Japan. Fourth-placed Samsung is the only non-Japanese company among those registering solid-state tech designs in the top five.

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