Toyota's reticence about pure electrics has been linked to insufficient range now offered by lithium-ion batteries, making their use unappealing in smaller cars. No one wants their auto to run out of juice far from a charging station, and then to wait half an hour for it to charge back up.
Toyota is touting its progress on a new kind of battery technology, which uses a solid electrolyte instead of the conventional semi-liquid version used in today's lithium-ion batteries.
Toyota spokeswoman Kayo Doi said the company would not comment on specific product plans but added that it aimed to commercialise all-solid-state batteries by the early 2020s.
Toyota isn't alone in racing toward solid-state batteries: Hyundai has shown interest in developing and commercializing this technology too. FT- EV III concept electric vehicle on display during the China (Guangzhou) International Automobile Exhibition in Guangzhou, China, on Saturday, November 21, 2015.
By contrast, current electric vehicles (EVs), which use lithium-ion batteries, need 20-30 minutes to recharge even with fast chargers and typically have a range of just 300-400 kilometres (185-250 miles).
Solid-state batteries appear to be the answer.
That coincided with Toyota setting up a team to develop a new range of electric cars, and now we learn from the Japanese press, via Reuters, that the new cars - and their new solid state batteries - will be ready for the market by 2022.
The company that created the immensely popular Prius is late to the EV game, but it will be welcomed with open arms if it brings a solution to two of the segment's biggest limitations.