Exclusive: Ford, BMW lead $130 million investing round in solid-state battery startup

By Ben Klayman
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co and BMW AG are launching a $ 130 million financing round for solid-state battery startup Solid Power as automakers want to cut the cost of electric vehicles by investing in the Investing in the development of affordable but powerful rechargeable batteries, the companies said on Monday.
The Series B investment round, which includes venture capital firm Volta Energy Technologies, will allow Solid Power to expand in-house manufacturing capabilities and enable the battery maker to deliver future electric vehicles, possibly by the end of the decade, the boss said the BMW battery cell technology Peter Lamp. Solid Power declined to say at what level the funding round rates the company.
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"The partnerships and associated capital will really put us on a solid footing to execute on our roadmap. Simply put, this technology qualifies for vehicle use and brings it into the vehicles not too distant future," said Doug Campbell, chief executive and Co-founder of Solid Power, in an interview.
Automakers are pushing the development of electric vehicles while CO2 emission standards are tightened in Europe and China.
Solid-state battery technology is a high-capacity energy storage device that improves lithium-ion batteries by replacing the liquid or gel electrolyte with a solid, conductive material. Among other things, the new technology offers a higher energy density and better safety due to the lack of flammable components. According to Solid Power, 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 also has to prove that it can work in the real world and stay permanent, and it has to increase in size to meet industry demand.
Monday's announcement marks the second investment in solid power for Ford and Volta Energy. Both competed in the $ 26 million Series A round in 2018, which was attended by Hyundai Motor Co and Samsung Electronics.
"We have worked with more than a dozen different startups in this space and have been most impressed with the progress Solid Power has made," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product platform and operations officer.
Solid Power, based near Denver, took out USD 5 million convertible bonds from BMW iVentures earlier this year. The partnership with the German automaker began in 2016.
Following the latest investments, Ford and BMW will hold equal, unidentified stakes in Solid Power, which was founded as a spinout from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2012, Campbell said.
Ford is pushing to electrify key models in its lineup, 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. The company had previously announced that it would invest $ 22 billion in electrification by 2025.
By the end of 2021, BMW is aiming for five fully electric models from the BMW and MINI brands. Fully electric models should be available for almost all market segments by 2023.
Toyota Motor Corp, which has called the technology a "game changer," plans to introduce solid-state batteries on an electrified platform by 2025.
Another solid-state battery startup is Volkswagen-backed QuantumScape, which plans to launch its battery in 2024. The company was floated on the stock exchange last year through a reverse merger with a special purpose vehicle (SPAC).
Campbell declined to say whether Solid Power is investigating the IPO with a SPAC.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Matthew Lewis and Nick Zieminski)
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