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Ford and BMW lead $130 million round in EV battery start-up

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Solid Power’s 22-layer 20Ah solid-state lithium metal cell compared to the company’s first-generation 10A-2Ah cell with 10Ah.

Solid strength

DETROIT – Ford Motor is increasing its investment in the launch of Solid Power electric vehicle batteries with the hope of incorporating the next generation batteries into its electric vehicles by the end of this decade.

Ford, which originally invested in the company in 2019, led a $ 130 million financing round in Solid Power with BMW and venture capital firm Volta Energy Technologies, the companies announced on Monday.

Solid Power makes what are known as solid-state batteries, which do not use the liquid electrolyte found in the traditional lithium-ion batteries currently used to power most electric vehicles. The batteries can be lighter and have a higher energy density that offers more range at a lower cost. However, they are currently more expensive than lithium-ion batteries and are in the early stages of development.

As part of the new agreement, Ford and BMW will receive automotive-grade battery cells from Solid Power from next year for testing and integration into their future vehicles. The Series B investment round will allow the company to expand its in-house manufacturing capabilities and positions, said Doug Campbell, CEO of Solid Power, in a press release.

Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer, said the automaker believes the industry will switch from lithium-ion batteries to solid-state batteries in the next decade. He declined to disclose Ford’s total investment in solid-state batteries, but said it was “significantly smaller” than lithium-ion at the time.

“We think it’s realistic that there is a good chance we can go into production with it by the end of this decade,” he told CNBC in an interview.

BMW expects solid-state batteries in series electric vehicles by the end of the decade. According to a company spokesman, a demonstration vehicle with this technology is expected before 2025.

The investment announcement comes less than a week after Ford announced it would invest $ 185 million in a new battery lab to manufacture its own battery cells for electric vehicles. This is on top of plans to invest $ 22 billion in vehicle electrification from 2016 to 2025.

Ford’s new plant won’t be a full-battery cell manufacturing facility like Tesla has. General Motors recently announced a $ 4.6 billion investment in two US battery cell manufacturing facilities with LG Energy Solution.

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Robert Dunfee