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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

An e-scooter that drives like a motorcycle for city commuters

The sleek and simple Zapp i300 is designed for urban commuters. Photo: Zapp

A new high-performance electric scooter is being billed as the transportation solution for urban residents who want an EV but don't have dedicated parking and can't exactly hang a charging cable out their apartment window.

What's happening: The $7,495 Zapp i300 is positioned as a daily commuter vehicle for urban dwellers — offering the convenience of a scooter and the performance of a motorcycle. Debuting this month in Paris, it's headed to Asia and the United States next year.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker