Doug Campbell, CEO of Solid Power Jonathan Castner/For BizWest

Ford invests in Louisville’s Solid Power

LOUISVILLE — Solid Power Inc., the Louisville-based developer of all-solid-state batteries, has added another marquee name to its list of investors: Ford Motor Co.

Solid Power announced Thursday that Ford has made an equity investment in the company, teaming with Solid Power to develop all-solid-state batteries for next-generation electric vehicles. Solid-state batteries offer improved energy and safety compared with conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Ford and Solid Power will focus on further developing ASSBs toward automotive requirements, the company said, building on a partnership with BMW Group that was announced in December 2017.

The BMW agreement called for the companies “to jointly develop Solid Power’s solid-state batteries for electric vehicle applications and to tailor Solid Power’s technology toward automotive requirements for high-performance electric vehicles,” according to a Solid Power press release.

Adding Ford to the mix is a significant milestone for the company, said Doug Campbell, Solid Power co-founder and CEO.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” he said. “It very much mirrors the agreement that was announced just a little over a year ago with BMW.”

Campbell said that, rather than separate development projects for the two automotive companies, the company will work with both to develop its ASSB technology for electric vehicles.

“It’s not like we have a duplicate project, one for BMW and one for Ford,” he said. “As far as the company is concerned, there’s just one thing that we’re doing: We are developing, scaling and qualifying our cell technology for electric-vehicle requirements.

“It’s intended and structured to be a fairly intimate relationship,” he said of the Ford investment, “and I expect it to be fairly similar to the one that we have with BMW, which has a lot of touch points.”

Ford’s investment came after the company closed a $20 million Series A round in September 2018, with investors including Volta Energy Technologies, Hyundai CRADLE, Samsung Venture Investment Corp., Sanoh Industrial Co., Solvay Ventures, and A123 Systems.

Solid Power filed a Form D with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in January, reporting that it had raised $26 million out of a $31 million target. Campbell said the Ford investment was not part of the $20 million but was closed in December and is included in the $26 million figure.

Solid Power is in the midst of rapid expansion, doubling its employment since January 2018 to 40 today, with another six positions open. The company soon will begin operation of its fully automated, roll-to-roll production facility.

Roll-to-roll production provides for continuous automated production, with base materials coming in on one end, and the final product out the other. The process is used to produce everything from newspapers to flexible circuits to electronic devices.

The production facility, part of the 20,000 square feet that Solid Power occupies at 486 S. Pierce Ave. in the Colorado Technology Center, is expected to become operational in the second quarter of 2019.

“It’s our first automated, roll-to-roll production facility and really, to the best of my knowledge, one of the industry’s first for an all-solid-state cell,” he said.

Solid Power first moved into the building in the summer of 2017, but buildout of the production facility began a year later. He said the production facility is partially operational today but is waiting on “a handful pieces of equipment” to become fully operational.

Ken Washington, vice president, research and advanced engineering and chief technology officer at Ford, said in a prepared statement that “Solid-state battery technology has the potential to help us deliver electric vehicles that are even safer and more capable. Our involvement with Solid Power enables us to further collaborate in an important emerging technology that could truly transform the design and integration of smart electric vehicles into tomorrow’s smart world.”

ASSBs provide many advantages over conventional lithium-ion batteries, with higher energy capacity. And, because they eliminate flammable liquid electrolytes, they offer improved safety over lithium-ion batteries, the company said. That means that they can be more cost-effective, as developers don’t have to rely on engineering solutions typically deployed to assure safe operation of the battery pack.

Beyond transportation, Campbell said improved energy potential means that ASSBs are receiving strong interest from a wide array of other sectors, including aerospace, medical devices and defense.

He said the company doesn’t “make as much noise” about the non-transportation segments, but, “From a business standpoint, it’s equally as important,” with cost targets that are not as aggressive and performance requirements that are easier to attain.

Because of that, “We are heavily pursuing a lot of those non-transportation markets,” he said. “We’re just not as public about it.”

He said ASSBs could be available in the non-transportation sectors in two to five years, but that it will probably be five to 10 years before they are commercially available in electric vehicles.

LOUISVILLE — Solid Power Inc., the Louisville-based developer of all-solid-state batteries, has added another marquee name to its list of investors: Ford Motor Co.

Solid Power announced Thursday that Ford has made an equity investment in the company, teaming with Solid Power to develop all-solid-state batteries for next-generation electric vehicles. Solid-state batteries offer improved energy and safety compared with conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Ford and Solid Power will focus on further developing ASSBs toward automotive requirements, the company said, building on a partnership with BMW Group that was announced in December 2017.

The BMW agreement called for the companies “to jointly develop Solid Power’s solid-state batteries for electric vehicle applications and to tailor Solid Power’s technology toward automotive requirements for high-performance electric vehicles,” according to a Solid Power press release.

Adding Ford to the mix is a significant milestone for the company, said Doug Campbell, Solid Power co-founder and CEO.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” he said. “It very much mirrors the agreement that was announced just a little over a year ago with BMW.”

Campbell said that, rather than separate development projects for the two automotive companies, the company will work with both to develop its ASSB technology for electric vehicles.

“It’s not like we have a duplicate project, one for BMW and one for Ford,” he said. “As far as the company is concerned, there’s just one thing that we’re doing: We are developing, scaling and qualifying our cell technology for electric-vehicle requirements.

“It’s intended and structured to be a fairly intimate relationship,” he said of…