December 11, 2023

Technology Development

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BMW to build solid-state batteries by licensing Solid Power’s tech

This morning, Solid Power announced that long-time investor BMW Group is expanding an existing joint development agreement to license its technology in order to build its own solid-state batteries in Germany. Under the agreement, BMW will gain access to Solid Power’s battery research and development, cell design, and manufacturing expertise to expedite the technology alongside its partner. That being said, Solid Power isn’t licensing all of its technology.

Solid Power ($SLDP) is a Colorado-based battery developer specializing in solid-state, sulfide-based electrolyte technology with hopes to bring scalable cells to the EV world at or near cost parity to current lithium-ion batteries. We have covered the company since 2017 when BMW Group first invested in its technology.

Since then, fellow automakers like Ford and Hyundai have invested in Solid Power, in addition to a partnership with SK Innovation announced in October of 2021. This past June, Solid Power announced a solid-state battery pilot production line ahead of a timeline to deliver the cells to both Ford and BMW before year’s end.

Today, Solid Power announced that BMW Group in particular won’t just be receiving solid-state prototypes for EV testing, but will be granted access to its battery know-how to help develop the technology concurrently.

solid state battery Ford

BMW gets R&D license for solid-state battery tech

Per a press release from Solid Power this morning, it has deepened its long-running relationship with BMW Group as part of a joint development agreement.

By gaining a license to Solid Power’s research and development, cell design, and manufacturing practices, BMW Group intends to duplicate Solid Power’s pilot production line at its own facility in Germany in order to produce prototype batteries cells of its own.

As a result of the expanded development agreement, both Solid Power and BMW Group intend to perform complementary cell development and manufacturing activities at their respective facilities to expedite the capability of the solid-state battery technology. Solid Power COO Dr. Derek Johnson spoke:

We could not be more excited about growing our relationship with BMW, a company that has demonstrated a strong commitment to Solid Power’s technology for the past seven years. We believe this expanded partnership and increased collaboration is an added vote of confidence in Solid Power’s technology development.

In exchange for access to Solid Power’s proprietary solid-state technology and manufacturing know-how, BMW Group has agreed to pay $20 million through June 2024 (subject to achieving certain milestones that have not been shared yet). While the expanded joint development agreement does include the sharing of information pertaining to proprietary battery technology, it does not include a license to intellectual property related to Solid Power’s electrolyte material, a pillar of its current business.

The companies state that while BMW implements its solid-state prototype production line overseas, its team will work alongside the Solid Power personnel at the latter’s facilities to continue to optimize the cell manufacturing processes. Once the production line is up and running in Germany, Solid Power still expects to supply BMW Group with its electrolyte material for all prototype cell production. Solid Power’s interim CEO, president, and chair David Jansen spoke about the future of solid-state batteries in EVs:

Expanding our relationship with BMW is further evidence that both companies believe Solid Power is on the right track with its technology development. I am encouraged by the progress our team continues to make toward achieving our company’s goals. Over the past several months, we began delivering 20 Ah cells to our partners, including BMW, for initial testing and commenced production of our initial EV cells. We look forward to bringing our electrolyte manufacturing facility online and commencing the formal automotive qualification process.

How Solid Power’s expanded relationship with BMW Group may affect access to solid-state battery technology for other investors like Ford remains unclear at this point. This news follows another milestone earlier this week in which fellow solid-state battery developer QuantumScape began delivering 24-layer battery cells to automotive OEMs for testing.

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