Dearborn’s Ford Motor Co. has announced it is growing its investment in Solid Power, a Colorado-based producer of all-solid-state batteries for electric vehicles.
Ford initially invested in Solid Power in 2019 and is making an additional equity investment to help accelerate development of the technology, contributing to a $130 million Series B investment round in which the BMW Group becomes an equal equity owner with Ford. The amount of Ford’s contribution was not disclosed.
“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,” says Hau Thai-Tang, chief product platform and operations officer at Ford. “Leveraging the speed of a startup and the expertise of some of the most seasoned battery experts in the world at Ford, we’re exploring different ways to power tomorrow’s fun-to-drive all-electric vehicles, using proven development and manufacturing processes.”
Solid state batteries don’t use the liquid electrolyte found in conventional lithium-ion batteries and can be lighter with greater energy density and provide more range and lower cost.
Solid Power’s products have 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 Solid Power’s commercialization plans.
“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,” says Ted Miller, manager of electrification subsystems and power supply research at Ford. “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.”
Under the new agreement, Ford will receive full-scale 100 ampere hour cells from Solid Power for testing and integrating into its future vehicles starting next year. Solid Power is already producing 20 ampere hour solid-state batteries on a pilot manufacturing line using lithium-ion production processes and equipment.
Ford also has a separate joint development agreement with Solid Power to develop and test its specific cell design and help streamline Ford’s integration into future vehicles.
Ford recently announced a new global battery center of excellence — Ford Ion Park — to accelerate research and development of its battery and battery cell technology, including future battery manufacturing.
The company has nearly two decades of battery expertise and is building on it by centralizing a cross-functional team of 150 experts in battery technology development, research, manufacturing, planning, purchasing, quality, and finance to help Ford more quickly develop and manufacture battery cells and batteries.
The team is also exploring better integration and innovation opportunities across all aspects of the value chain, from mining to recycling, working with Ford teams, suppliers, and partners.
In addition, a $185 million collaborative learning lab in southeast Michigan dedicated to developing, testing, and building vehicle battery cells and cell arrays will open late next year. The 200,000-square-foot lab will include pilot-scale equipment for electrode, cell, and array design and manufacturing and will use state-of-the-art technology to pilot new manufacturing techniques that will allow Ford to quickly scale breakthrough battery cell designs with new materials once the company vertically integrates battery cells and batteries.
Ford has secured more than 2,500 patents in electrification technologies with another 4,300 patents pending. It has sold more than 1 million hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and all-electric vehicles since 2004.