The Japanese government has shown keen interest in supporting the automotive industry by setting up a new research entity called the Consortium for Lithium Ion Battery Technology and Evaluation Center, or Libtec. The consortium will work closely with leading major Japanese manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, Panasonic, and Yuasa to research the viability of solid state batteries which are expected to offer greater range and to cost less than the lithium ion batteries that are currently used.
According to a report that appeared in Nikkei Asian News, the Japanese government will provide funds to the tune of USD 14 million. These funds will be disbursed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to Libtec. The goal of the consortium is to develop a solid state battery with a range of 550 kilometers by 2025 and 800 kilometers by 2030.
Based on theory, solid state batteries should offer less risk of fire and should be cheaper when compared to conventional lithium ion batteries. Today’s lithium ion batteries need complicated temperature management systems and crash protection structures which these batteries might not need. This means that vehicles using solid state batteries would be lighter and would hence have longer range.
Battery manufacturers in Japan had a 70 per cent market share of the global market in 2013 and that has decreased to 41 per cent with Chinese battery manufacturers increasing their share from 3 per cent of the market in 2013 to 26 per cent. Battery companies based in Korea like LG have also come to play a key role in the market.
China is going to be biggest potential market for battery companies with the company planning to have 80 million electric vehicles on the road in the coming years, a significant increase from 650,000 in 2016. Germany is another big market, with its target of 6 million electric vehicles, up from 70,000 in 2016. Japan too is hoping to have electric vehicles account for up to 30 per cent of sales by 2030.
At the moment, Toyota is believed to be the leader in Japanese solid state battery research. The Libtec initiative hopes to leverage Toyota’s expertise and combine it with fresh insights from the other partners so that Japan can reclaim its place as a world leader in battery technology and manufacturing.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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