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EXCLUSIVELY Ford, BMW lead $ 130 million by investing in the launch of SSD batteries

A Solid Power production engineer holds two 20 amp-hours (Ah) all semiconductor batteries for the BMW Group and Ford Motor Company on the Solid Power pilot production line in Louisville, Colorado, USA, April 23, 2021. Photo taken on April 23, 2021. Will McKenna / Solid Power / Handout via REUTERS

Ford Motor Co (FN) and BMW AG (BMWG.DE) are leading a $ 130 million round of funding to launch a Solid Power battery, while carmakers are pushing to reduce the cost of electric vehicles by investing in developing affordable but powerful rechargeable batteries, the companies announced on Monday.

The B-Series investment round, which includes venture capital firm Volta Energy Technologies, allows Solid Power to expand its own production capabilities and position the battery maker to eventually supply future electric vehicles, likely by the end of the decade, according to the head of battery technology. cells of BMW Peter Lamp. Solid Power declined to say at what level the company evaluates the circle of funding.

“The partnerships and the capital that comes with this will really put us on a good footing to implement our roadmap, which is simply a qualification of this technology for the use of vehicles and their introduction into vehicles in the not too distant future.” said Solid Power CEO and co-founder Doug Campbell in an interview.

Carmakers are vying to develop electric cars amid tightening CO2 standards in Europe and China.

Solid battery technology includes a high-capacity energy storage device that enhances lithium-ion batteries by replacing the liquid or gel electrolyte with a solid, conductive material. Among other advantages, the new technology offers higher energy density and better safety due to the lack of flammable components. Solid Power said its technology can deliver 50% more energy density than current lithium-ion batteries.

However, semiconductor battery technology is more expensive than lithium-ion cell technology. It also needs to prove that it can work and stay durable in the real world, and it needs to scale to meet the demand in the industry.

Monday’s announcement marks the second investment in Solid Power for Ford and Volta Energy. Both participated in the $ 26 million Serie 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 by the progress Solid Power has made,” said Howe Tai-Tang, Ford’s chief product officer and chief operating officer.

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 the latest investment, Ford and BMW will hold equal, unidentified stakes in Solid Power, which was created in 2012 as a spin-off from the University of Colorado Boulder, Campbell said.

Ford is pushing to electrify key models in its range, including the Transit van later this year and the F-150 pickup in mid-2022, and is already selling the all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUV. Earlier, he said he would invest $ 22 billion in electrification by 2025.

By the end of 2021, BMW aims to have five fully electric models for the BMW and MINI brands and said that by 2023 it will have fully electric models for almost all its market segments.

Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), which has called game-changing technology, plans to introduce semiconductor batteries on an electrified platform by 2025.

Another solid-state battery launch is QuantumScape (QS.N), supported by Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE), which aims to introduce its battery in 2024. Last year, it went public through a merger with a special acquisition company ( SPAC).

Campbell declined to say whether Solid Power was investigating the public release with SPAC.

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