- Ford and BMW are leading a $130 million funding round in a solid-state battery start-up, Solid Power.
- The automakers hope to use the next-generation batteries in electric vehicles by the end of this decade.
- Solid-state batteries can be lighter, with greater energy density and provide more range at a lower cost than today's EVs with lithium-ion batteries.
DETROIT — Ford Motor is increasing its investment in EV battery start-up Solid Power with hopes of starting to integrate the next-generation batteries into its electric vehicles by the end of this decade.
Ford, which initially invested in the company in 2019, led a $130 million funding round in Solid Power with BMW and Venture capital firm Volta Energy Technologies, the companies announced Monday.
Solid Power makes so-called solid-state batteries, which don't use the liquid electrolyte found in the conventional lithium-ion batteries currently used to power most electric vehicles. The batteries can be lighter, with greater energy density that provides more range at a lower cost. But they are currently more costly than lithium-ion batteries and early in development.
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Under the new agreement, Ford and BMW will receive automotive-capable battery cells from Solid Power for testing and integration into its future vehicles starting next year. The Series B investment round will allow the company to expand in-house manufacturing capabilities and positions, Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell said in a release.
Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product platform and operations officer, said the automaker believes the industry will start transitioning from lithium-ion batteries to solid state over the next decade. He declined to disclose Ford's total investment in solid-state batteries but said it's "significantly smaller" than lithium-ion at this time.
"We think it's realistic that by the end of this decade, there's a good chance that this is something we can go into production with," he told CNBC during an interview.
BMW said it also expects to have solid-state batteries in production EVs by the end of the decade. A demonstrator vehicle featuring the technology is expected before 2025, according to a company spokesman.
The investment announcement comes less than a week after Ford said it would invest $185 million in a new battery lab as a step toward manufacturing its own battery cells for electric vehicles. That's in addition to plans to put $22 billion into vehicle electrification from 2016 through 2025.
Ford's new facility will not be a full battery cell production facility like Tesla has. General Motors recently announced $4.6 billion in investments in two U.S. battery cell production plants with LG Energy Solution.