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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

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."

Go deeper: The mad scramble for electric vehicle batteries

Go deeper

Column / Harder Line

To combat climate change, electric cars have to be cheaper

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Most drivers of electric cars are wealthy, and most electric cars are luxury.

Why it matters: To effectively combat climate change, the opposite needs to happen: electric cars need to become affordable and broadly appealing so the masses can and want to buy them. Only with mass adoption will heat-trapping emissions steeply decline in America’s most polluting sector.

18 mins ago - World

Israeli and Palestinian officials are speaking again

Isaac Herzog (L), then the leader of the opposition, meets with Mahmoud Abbas in 2015. Photo: Abbas MomaniI/AFP via Getty

Relations between the new Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have shifted substantially in recent weeks, with Israeli officials going so far as to call it “a renaissance."

Why it matters: During Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as prime minister, relations deteriorated to the point where there was almost no contact other than security coordination.

50 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Bipartisan group reaches agreement on $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure bill

Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

After weeks of long nights and endless Zoom calls, a bipartisan group of senators finally reached a deal on "the major issues" in their $1.2 trillion "hard" infrastructure package, GOP senators involved in the talks announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: It could be days before the group finishes writing the bill, but the Senate can begin debating the legislation in earnest now that they have resolved the outstanding issues. The bill needs 60 votes to advance in the Senate.