BMW has been working with Solid Power, a solid-state battery company that's enjoyed investments from both BMW and Ford. The battery company has now agreed to give some of its intellectual rights to BMW so that the German luxury automaker can more quickly produce its own solid-state electric vehicle batteries at its own locations.
Solid Power is one of the more active and well-known players in the solid-state EV battery game. In June 2022, it installed a pilot line to produce its futuristic batteries for the purposes of testing and qualification, which it noted at the time would begin before the end of 2022. After producing the cells for testing, Solid Power plans to deliver them to BMW and Ford.
Fast-forward to the present, and the battery company based in Colorado is licensing its solid-state battery cell design and manufacturing processes to BMW. That automaker will have to meet specific conditions and will owe Solid Power $20 million to be paid between now and June 2024. BMW has already invested in Solid Power and also agreed to a deal to accept completed solid-state EV battery cells from the company going forward.
According to Automotive News, solid-state batteries rely on a solid electrolyte, which is unlike the liquid electrolyte found in current lithium-ion EV batteries. The solid-state battery cells are said to have many advantages, including reduced fire risk.
Solid Power will not be giving up the intellectual rights to its proprietary solid electrolyte material. Rather, it will provide the material to BMW as needed, but not until the automaker has its own battery production lines assembled and working.
BMW will make its own "duplicates" of Solid Power's pilot battery production lines. The lines will be assembled in one of the automaker's factories in Germany. Much like Solid Power's pilot line, BMW's line will initially produce prototypes.
Solid Power just went public in December of 2022. It's one of many companies touting a future of solid-state EV batteries. While the technology appears to have much promise, other companies have been working on it for many years, and it may not be ready for mass production and use in electric cars for many more years.