Ford Motor Co. and the BMW Group have invested in Solid Power, a producer of all-solid-state batteries for electric vehicles, based in Colorado.
This is actually Ford’s second investment in Solid Power. It made its initial investment in Solid Power in 2019. This week, Ford contributed to a $130 million Series B investment round in which the BMW Group now becomes an equal equity owner in the company. Both Ford and BMW representatives will now join Solid Power’s board.
“Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that’s why we’re investing in it directly as well as accelerating Ford’s in-house R&D on next-generation battery technology,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer.
Solid-state batteries don’t use the liquid electrolyte found in conventional lithium-ion batteries and can be lighter, with greater energy density. They can also provide more range and lower cost.
Solid Power uses sulfide-based solid-state battery cells. Solid Power has been confirmed with the delivery of hundreds of production line-produced battery cells that were validated by the BMW Group and Ford late last year, formalizing the company’s commercialization plans with its two automotive partners.
“Being a leader in advanced battery technology is of the utmost importance for BMW. The development of all solid-state batteries is one of the most promising and important steps towards more efficient, sustainable and safer electric vehicles,” said Frank Weber, member of the board of management BMW AG, Development. “Over the past 10 years, BMW has continuously increased the battery cell competence — important partners like Solid Power share our vision of a zero-emission mobility.”
Under the new agreement, Ford and BMW both will receive full-scale 100 ampere hour (Ah) cells from Solid Power for testing and integration into its future vehicles starting next year. Solid Power already is producing 20 Ah solid-state batteries on a pilot manufacturing line using lithium-ion production processes and equipment.
“By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we’ll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume and ultimately deliver lower costs and better value for customers,” said Ted Miller, Ford’s manager of electrification subsystems and power supply research. “We look forward to delivering these improvements and working with Solid Power to seamlessly and quickly integrate their sulfide-based all-solid-state battery cells into existing lithium-ion cell production processes more efficiently than oxide-based solid-state battery cell makers can.”
Earlier this week, Ford announced a new global battery center of excellence in Michigan — named Ford Ion Park — to accelerate research and development of battery cell technology. The park will centralize Ford’s team of 150 experts in battery technology development, research, manufacturing, planning, purchasing, quality and finance to help it more quickly develop and manufacture battery cells and batteries.
Both Ford and BMW have plants in the South. Ford’s Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville makes the Super Duty pickup, Expedition and Expedition EL/Max SUVs, as well as the Lincoln Navigator and Navigator L SUVs. Ford also has the Louisville Assembly plant, which makes the Ford Escape crossover SUV and the Lincoln Corsair. BMW builds the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 SUVs in Greer, South Carolina.