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Nikkei study finds Toyota with huge lead in solid-state battery patents

Nikkei partnered with Tokyo research company Patent Result to analyze solid-state battery patent applications submitted to the World Intellectual Property Organization and another group. The study looked at applications turned in between 2000 through the end of March from 10 countries and territories.

The study found that Toyota Motor is by far the leading holder of solid-state battery patents with 1,331 known patents. Panasonic Holdings is a distant second with 445 patents. Idemitsu Kosan holds 272 patents.

Fourth-place Samsung Electronics was the only non-Japanese company to enter the top five. Overall, Japanese companies occupied six of the top 10 rankings.

Toyota, which has researched solid-state batteries since the 1990s, holds patents in a wide range of applications, including battery structure, material and manufacturing processes, the study found. Idemitsu holds patents mainly in metallic materials for solid-state batteries.

Between 2016 and 2020, Toyota increased patents related to solid-state batteries by roughly 40%. During that same span, Samsung more than doubled its patents, while LG Chem tripled its count.

The South Korean companies possess numerous patents directly concerning real-world performance, such as the life span of batteries, according to the study.



The meme that Toyota is against the electrification of transport is nonsense.

Since the inception of TMC they have striven to develop the 'Sakichi' battery:

ie one which can actually do the job, but at a price to enable it for everyman, not some bling project to grab incentives and tax breaks for the wealthy.

It was their development of the Prius which set up the production chains which enabled others to order parts for pure electric vehicles.

And their adventure continues, with proper, audited strategies for total decarbonisation.

Arriviste tax dodgers talk a good game, but Toyota, and others, do the business.


I would respect Toyota a bit more if they had any plug-in hybrid or EV technology of their own.
They can have as many patents as they want, reality is they are going the Li-ion route (very late!) and they are using BYD and CATL tech for it.

Toyota is stuck in the 90s.



Toyota and their close associate Panasonic have developed and tested lithium batteries for years.

As they said when they pulled the Tesla powered RAV4 and entered an extensive testing regime of their own, their emphasis is safety, safety and safety.

It remains to be seen whether current generations of lithium batteries as they age exhibit an ever higher fire risk, which are darned difficult to put out.

So they used NiCad in their Prius cars, whose virtues are that it is cheaper, and has an excellent safety record and fine longevity.

They are currently amongst the leaders in developing far safer, more compact solid state lithium ion batteries.


Davemart, Toyota does not use NiMH because it's cheaper. Yes, it's safer, but it's very expensive and heavy.(BTW, it's NiMH not NiCad what Toyota uses).
I agree safety could the reason they avoid plug-in cars so much, as there are no alternatives to Li-ion there.
However, at this point this seems to border on paranoia; many Li-ion formats have been proven safe over the last decade. The original Tesla roasters have the battery dying now, after 14 years, and they don't fail burning. Cells just die and become resistive.

In the end, if Toyota refuse completely to produce plug-in cars they will find themselves out of the markets of all developed countries.
Even hydrogen cars should have plug-in capabilities at this point.


2021 Toyota Prius Uses either Lithium-ion or Nickel-Metal Hydride Batteries


Toyota started using Li-ion pretty recently. They have resisted Li-ion as much as possible, more than any other brand.

It baffles me that Toyota is presented as an avid and successful battery researcher, when they have sold nothing more than NiMH for more than 20 years. And even now they are using Li-ion from other companies.

I even think solid and semisolid batteries could be a fiasco, Toyota version included.
I am pretty sure BYD and Tesla ignore the technology for a reason...


Yep, Toyota does use the NMH batteries in the Prius, not NiCad as I erroneously stated

It is some years since I looked at it, hence the slip


My comment on them being cheaper however stands, as it is not current costs that we are talking about, but when they were chosen instead of lithium.

Here is a reference from 2009:

' ...While Toyota’s lithium batteries performed well and yielded “small” fuel-economy gains due to lighter weight, nickel will remain the material of choice for conventional, mass-market hybrids as lithium’s benefits didn’t justify the higher cost, said Kazuo Tojima, the carmaker’s senior staff engineer for batteries.'

Since they have performed admirably, I can't really understand the gripe.

It might be a different matter if it were going to hinder Toyota from swapping, if and when that ever becomes preferable.

But Toyota were and still are at the very forefront of lithium battery development.

The criticism really seems to be that Toyota are being Toyota, and have standards for cost, longevity and safety that up to now lithium batteries have not met in the application.

That is the way Toyota do things, and they have had some success in car manufacturing, although they are lousy at bling and subsidy grubbing.


The history of NiMH batteries displays how oil companies manipulate all aspects of the energy market, not just fossil fuels:
In 1994, General Motors purchased an Ovonics Company patent for an improved NiMH EV traction battery and by the late 1990s, NiMH batteries were being used successfully in the General Motors EV1.
However, GM stopped production in 1999, after a production run of 2500 cars; and, in 2003 crushed the cars rather than continuing to support them
In October 2000, the patent was sold to Texaco, and a week later Texaco was acquired by Chevron.
Chevron's Cobasys subsidiary provides these batteries only to select companies, thus controlling the marketing of large format NiMH batteries.
General Motor's shut down of the EV1 was publicized as a lack of battery availability as the chief obstacle.
Cobasys control of NiMH batteries created a patent encumbrance for large automotive NiMH batteries.
I suspect Toyota has been caught up in these restriction. It could be the reason, they built hybrids, which use a smaller traction battery than BEVs.


It does not matter how many patents you have, it is the nature or quality of the patents that matter. It is easy to get patents on minor changes to something. All you have to do is fill out the paperwork and pay the lawyers and legal fees. Most patents are not worth the paper they are written on. I have 20 patents but in my estimation only a few are really worth something.

Toyota had the reputation of making reliable if somewhat dull cars by keeping to make relatively minor changes to their existing vehicles. I will give them credit for bringing the Prius hybrid vehicles to market in the late 1990s. However, in an apples to apples comparison, most of their vehicles did not get exception fuel economy. Their large pickups and SUVs did not and do not get as good fuel economy as Ford or GM. Toyota has been late to build smaller turbo-charged engines to improve fuel economy. Someone posted a presentation from Toyota about a year ago that showed that they intended to keep making IC engines into the 2050s while GM, Ford and others planned to phase out all IC-engined light vehicles by 2035.

For some reason, Toyota went down the hydrogen fuel cell rabbit hole for light vehicles even after most other car companies opted to go battery electric. They are a good 6 or 7 years late bringing out a BEV and then they recalled all of them because the wheels fall off?? If look at the specs for their battery electric car, they do not even match those for the Chevy Bolt and it costs in excess of $10K more than the Bolt. Not very impressive.



Patents are not the be-all and end all, and Toyota's favoured chemistries for solid state may not be the winner.

But neither are they worthless and indicative of nothing, especially Toyota's decade long commitment to covering all alternatives for power trains.

It is difficult to arrive at a balanced evaluation of viability, as the boom in electric vehicles has been entirely dependent on government mandate and loose money conditions, without which players like Tesla would not exist.

The Chevy Bolt price is also politically driven, with the pious hope that battery costs will drop fast enough that less loading of costs onto their ICE offerings will be needed.

Currently battery prices are way beyond sticky.

And those trying to write off fuel cell technology, for instance as range extenders, are simply claiming that their own bet on the red will win, and is not based on the near certainty proponents claim.


And here is an article in 'The Guardian' referencing and based on studies of critical raw materials, including their cornering by China, which at the least poses significant question marks on the speed and practicality of total conversion to electric, perhaps especially for big battery ZEVs:

' It’s as if the logical conclusion is too painful to articulate. So let’s spell it out. As Europe and the US try to move to a carbon-free, CRM-rich future, they will find themselves in a position of strategic dependence analogous to Europe’s current dependence on Russian gas. Except that now it’ll be Xi Jinping calling the shots. '

Who knows, perhaps Toyota is not exclusively staffed by idiots, who have missed the obvious, speedy and total inevitable victory of BEV cars?

Maybe they know a thing or two about what is actually practical?


Toyoda is a fool, and one must suspect if he is planning to sell all the patents to BIG OIL. Toyota's PHEV's could reduce carbon emissions by increasing the battery size 10X from nanoscale to enough for 30 kms. Patents do not reduce carbon emissions without using them.
The question is how much will Toyota shrink or how long until bankruptcy? China is making $20k EV's that are an incredible value for that price.
China will be the new Japan. Hopefully that does not mean a monopoly.

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