BMW has strengthened ties with Solid Power, which will provide the automaker with proprietary technology.
BMW and Solid Power, a battery developer in the US, have announced the strengthening of an existing partnership that will provide the automaker with a research and development license to the firm's all-state cell design and manufacturing knowledge.
The newly-defined relationship will see BMW reproduce Solid Power's pilot assembly lines at a German facility to manufacture prototype cells based on the battery developer's proprietary technology. BMW employees will work closely with Solid Power to advance these manufacturing processes.
As part of the deal, the German automaker will pay Solid Power $20 million to gain access to the battery technology. The battery company is keen to point out that the Joint Development Agreement only includes sharing intellectual property pertaining to solid-state electrode and cell manufacturing technologies, not electrolyte materials.
"BMW remains committed to the pursuit of all-solid-state batteries, a technology which we believe has significant potential for the future," said the company's Frank Weber. "We look forward to working even more closely with Solid Power and adding the capability to produce solid-state cells based on Solid Power's designs at our own pilot facility."
BMW, which already builds premium EVs like the iX SUV and i7 luxury sedan, is betting big on solid-state technology for future electric vehicles. As soon as the experimental production line has been implemented, Solid Power has said it will supply electrolyte material for prototype cell manufacturing.
"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," remarked Solid Power Interim CEO David Jansen.
Solid Power's battery technology relies on a sulfide-based solid electrolyte. This is considered to be far safer than a comparable lithium-ion battery, as the solid material is less likely to overheat or catch fire.
Even though BMW is forging ahead in the solid-state battery field, the German premium brand recently introduced a sixth-generation version of its lithium-ion cells. The automaker made some big claims about the new setup; not only does it afford 20% quicker charging speeds, but increases range and cuts C02 emissions in the production stage.
Importantly, the production costs have essentially been sliced in half. Hopefully, these savings will be passed on to the customer and make for more affordable electric cars. The marque says the batteries have been designed for the upcoming Neue Klasse platform and will play a key role in the structure of future vehicles.
These new cells, similar to Tesla's 4680 batteries, will be constructed by external firms.
This isn't the first time BMW has invested heavily to further its EV ambitions. In September 2021, CEO Oliver Zipse said the automaker had spent nearly $24 billion to secure batteries for existing products. "We're following the market. The first half has shown that we're growing and gaining market share. We're right in the middle of electrification," said the chief executive at the time.
Like Toyota, the German premium brand is taking a unique approach to electrification. While it will offer a range of battery-powered cars in the near future, Zipse has openly spoken out against an outright ban on ICE-powered cars and believes there's still a market for them. Elsewhere, BMW continues to work with hydrogen technology and recently started producing the iX5 SUV in small batches.