Lux Research: Buying Spree Of Battery Startups Expected

SEP 6 2015 BY MARK KANE 9

Seeo DryLyte

Seeo DryLyte

Investments in battery start-ups are (like in the case of most start-ups) risky. The recent acquisition of Seeo by Bosch convinced Lux Research to post a blog article.

Seeo is developing solid-state batteries with high energy density and Bosch believes that Seeo’s IP and research staff will succeed in producing its own battery cells.

Lux Research monitors the whole industry, including not only large manufacturers but also start-ups and, as it turns out, a bunch of them already were classified in the “Caution” category. Even Sakti3.

Here is Lux Research’s insights into Bosch’s risky bet:

  • Bosch’s acquisition of Seeo (see the full Lux profile of Seeo here — client registration required) comes at a crucial time for the fragile startup. Seeo has been trying to pivot from lower-energy LFP (lithium iron phosphate) cathodes towards higher-energy NCA (nickel cobalt aluminum) cathodes to keep ahead of the competition. It was also looking to set up joint ventures to help it scale up production of cells capable of 350 Wh/kg, a crucial step in proving its new technology. However, its high appetite for burning through cash, its unproven cost claims, and technical issues like low ionic conductivity (which limit power and require the battery be heated to about 80 °C) place it mid-pack in our Lux Innovation Grid of interviewed solid-state battery developers:
  • Bosch is taking a risk on a mid-pack player, but if the acquisition price was low enough (terms were undisclosed) it was a move worth making. Seeo’s technology will require quite a bit more investment and time before it is ready for a commercial debut. Nonetheless, the buy is an almost necessary one for a supplier like Bosch that has ambitions to be a key battery player in a crowded, competitive space that our recent report, Watch the Throne: How LG Chem and Others Can Take Panasonic’s EV Battery Crown by 2020 details (client registration required). As Bosch’s CEO commented earlier this year, the supplier is hoping its batteries reach the 300 Wh/kg to 400 Wh/kg mark by 2020, and that at the same time costs fall by 50% in that timeframe. Such ambitions are well-matched to taking a risk on next-generation batteries beyond lithium-ion (Li-ion), like Seeo’s.
  • As our Lux Innovation Grid shows, there remain some intriguing companies in this solid-state space that present better targets for partnerships or acquisition than Seeo – like Imprint Energy, Ilika, and ProLogium on the start-up front, and Hydro-Quebec’s IREQ arm on the industrial laboratory front. While all of these players have their own associated strengths and weaknesses, it does mean that the next-generation solid-state battery space remains open, despite starting to heat up.  In addition to Bosch buying Seeo, Apple is rumored to have quietly acquired distressed thin-film battery developer Infinite Power Solutions at the end of 2014 (not to mention GM’s investments into Sakti3 and SolidEnergy, and VW investing into Quantumscape and working with Oxis Energy, two other beyond-Li-ion players).

So, a lot of large companies investing in battery start-ups are trying to seize an opportunity. A big part of those companies probably will fail, but some have a chance at succeeding.

Source: Lux Research

Categories: Battery Tech, General

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9 Comments on "Lux Research: Buying Spree Of Battery Startups Expected"

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Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu

It would be interesting to see an authoritative report summarizing who is R&D in what areas of cutting edge battery tech.

But given Lux Research’s abysmal track record for making analyses and predictions in the EV field, they would be about the last place I’d look for such a summary.

ffbj
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ffbj

So true.

mr. M
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mr. M

We want more Wh/l, not Wh/kg for a car. Space is more limited in a (European) car. Weight is more aviation relevant…

Oh and price dominantes everything 😉

Speculawyer
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Speculawyer

Well, what companies really need to do is adopt the Tesla skateboard design. Tesla seems to have no issues regarding space since they have an ample frunk and a rear trunk space. They have issues with weight since the really big batteries start making the cars pretty heavy.

jmac
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jmac
Dear Santa: The Cymbet Corporation (mentioned the LUX graph) claims to be the first to actually commercialize solid state batteries way back in 2009. They make micro-electronic sized batteries for circuit boards and other devices. The link below shows you what they are up to… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhKxxf8aNzk There are tons of solid state battery videos on You Tube. It beats reading boring PDFs all day long. You Tube is great jumping off place and source of info. C’mon folks……Let’s get serious……At least some of this R&D from so many different companies will pan out. And how about all the major players in the Far East that Lux doesn’t mention ? Don’t you think LG Chem is busy working overtime on this solid state thing ? Lux doesn’t mention them …. or Panasonic or BYD, etc. The search for a solid state electrolytes has been going on for a long time. It’s the Holy Grail of the battery world. The search has been going on for decades. In fact, Hydro Quebec claims it was awarded the very first solid state patent way back in the early 90s. With a $100 million yearly research budget, Hydro-Quebec is no struggling, penniless start-up. Solid electrolytes… Read more »
Pushmi-Pullyu
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Pushmi-Pullyu

“Don’t you think LG Chem is busy working overtime on this solid state thing ?”

No, I don’t. They seem to be pursuing commercialization of lithium NMC battery chemistry. Where Envia failed, perhaps they’ve succeeded. At any rate, it seems pretty clear that whatever breakthru they’ve accomplished, it has let them offer EV batteries at a lower per-kWh price than anyone else. If that wasn’t so, then they wouldn’t have so many EV makers competing to buy their batteries.

jerryd
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jerryd

Why anyone would believe anything Lux puts out is beyond me.
Their record is so bad by their records they seem to be paid for results.

jmac
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jmac

It’s pretty naive to think that LG Chem, Panasonic or other large battery makers have no one working on solid state battery technology. Even IBM had a group of engineers working on the lithium-air battery.

SJC
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SJC

Solid electrolyte may be good for smart phones, but not as good for EVs.