Ford Motor Co (UN) and BMW AG (BMWG.DE) are leading a $ 130 million round of funding in a solid-state battery launch, Solid Power, as carmakers push to cut the cost of electric vehicles by investing in the development of affordable but powerful rechargeable batteries, companies said Monday.
The Series B investment round, which includes venture capital Volta Energy Technologies, allows Solid Power to expand its own production capacity and place the battery maker to eventually deliver future electric cars, possibly by the end of the decade, according to BMW Battery Cell Technology Manager Peter Lamp. Solid Power declined to say at what level the financing round values the company.
“The partnerships and the capital that comes with it will really put us in a good position to perform on our roadmap, which simply speaks to qualifying this technology for vehicle use and getting them into vehicles in the not too distant future,” he said. Solid Power Chief Executive and co-founder Doug Campbell in an interview.
Car manufacturers are struggling to develop electric cars amid a tighter CO2 emissions standard in Europe and China.
Solid state battery technology involves a high-capacity energy storage device that enhances lithium-ion batteries that replace liquid or gel electrolyte with a solid, conductive material. Among other benefits, the new technology offers more energy density and better safety due to lack of combustible components. Solid Power has said that its technology can deliver 50% more energy density than current lithium-ion batteries.
However, solid state battery technology is more expensive than lithium-ion cell technology. It must also prove that it can function and remain durable in the real world and must increase its scale to meet industry demand.
Monday’s announcement marks the second investment in Solid Power for Ford and Volta Energy. Both participated in the $ 26 million Series A round in 2018, which included Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS).
“We’ve worked with more than a dozen different startups in this space, and we’ve been most impressed with the progress that Solid Power has made,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s product and operations manager.
Solid Power, based near Denver, raised $ 5 million in convertible debt from BMW iVentures earlier this year. Its partnership with the German carmaker began in 2016.
Following recent investments, Ford and BMW will own equal, unidentified shares in Solid Power, which was established in 2012 as a spinout from the University of Colorado Boulder, Campbell said.
Ford is pushing to electrify key models in its lineup, including the Transit van late in the year and the F-150 pickup in mid-2022, and is already selling the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV. It said earlier that it will invest $ 22 billion in electrification through 2025.
By the end of 2021, BMW aims to have five fully electric models available across the BMW and MINI brands, and it said by 2023 that it will have fully electric models available for almost all of its market segments.
Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), which has called the technology a “game changer”, plans to introduce solid state batteries on an electrified platform by 2025.
Another solid-state battery launch is Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) -backed QuantumScape (QS.N), which aims to introduce its battery in 2024. It was announced last year through a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).
Campbell declined to say whether Solid Power is exploring disclosure with a SPAC.
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