Ford and BMW have increased their investment in Solid Power, a Denver firm working to develop solid-state batteries. Solid Power has attracted $130m in its latest round of funding with a view to commencing manufacture of 100Ah batteries in 2022.
“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 have the potential to offer greater range, faster charging and a longer lifespan than the lithium-ion batteries commonly used at present.
Thai-Tang, told the Associated Press that the promise of roughly a 25-30 per cent improvement in energy density could reduce the costs of his firm’s next generation of electric vehicles.
“For customers, that basically means they can drive farther with more range,” he said. “So as you get better energy and power density, the cells get smaller. That allows the vehicles to become lighter for the same range, as well as more space for people and their things instead of for batteries. And then, of course, cost. Being able to drive the cost-per-kilowatt-hour down will speed up the adoption of battery electric vehicles.”
Commenting on his firm’s investment, he added: “We think Solid Power is among the leaders because of their ability to scale up to a multi-layer cell, up to 20 amp-hour. This is something that we can actually use in an automobile.
“Beginning next year, they’re targeting to give us – as well as the other investor, BMW – a 100 amp-hour battery. That’s at the size we really can use for automotive applications.
“The other big thing is, their chemistry can be built in the same manufacturing process that we would invest in to build lithium-ion batteries. So this allows us to ease into that new technology without having to reinvest in all of that capital equipment.”
Thai-Tang believes it’s realistic to target the end of this decade for switching to solid-state batteries.
For its part, BMW is aiming to start road tests of vehicles powered by solid-state batteries by 2025, with a view to bringing them to market by 2030.
Elsewhere, Volkswagen has taken a stake in US solid-state battery start-up QuantumScape, which is looking to start manufacturing in 2024-2025, while Toyota has said it will unveil a solid-state battery vehicle prototype later this year.