Auto giants play the long game on solid-state batteries
Ford and BMW, along with the VC firm Volta Energy Technologies, are investing $130 million in the solid-state battery startup Solid Power.
Why it matters: Solid-state batteries hold the promise of more energy density, durability and safety than existing battery tech with liquid electrolytes, but successful and widespread commercialization remains a challenge.
The intrigue: The funding also signals how the world's biggest car companies are looking years ahead as they increasingly electrify their fleets.
- Per the announcement, beyond the funding, the automakers have also expanded their separate joint development agreements with Solid Power.
- CNBC reports that their interest in solid-state tech is a long game — they note that Ford and BMW are eyeing integration of solid-state batteries into mass-produced EVs by the end of this decade.
- The two automakers now have equal equity stakes in the Colorado-based startup and will each have representatives on its board, Ford said.
The big picture: The new funding and development agreement comes a week after Ford announced a $185 million to create a battery R&D lab in Michigan.
- It's an initial step toward potential large-scale manufacturing in the future.
- Cox Automotive analyst Michelle Krebs said the two developments help to show how automakers are positioning themselves in the increasingly intense competition for batteries.
- "They are realizing they need to be vertically integrated to some degree on batteries," she said. Krebs also said the chip shortage plaguing the industry has been "eye-opening for a lot of companies."