Ford Makes A Big Move To Develop Better Batteries

Electric Vehicles / Comments

It's jumping on board with BMW.

Ford recently announced a major investment to build in-house batteries for its electric vehicles. The project includes $185 million to build a new global battery center called Ford Ion Park. The Blue Oval has already promised that this new facility will manufacture lithium-ion batteries, as we see in current electric vehicles like the Ford Mustang Mach-E. It will also produce state-of-the-art solid-state battery cells and arrays. The trouble is that this technology is not yet ready for full-scale production and consumer use.

That's why Ford just announced a new investment in Solid Power, an industry leader in solid-state battery development. Ford initially invested in the company back in 2019 and will now add a $130 million Series B investment round. BMW invested in Solid Power as well, and the two automakers are now equal equity owners.

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"Solid-state battery technology is important to the future of electric vehicles, and that's why we're investing in it directly as well as accelerating Ford's in-house R&D on next-generation battery technology," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford's chief product platform and operations officer. "Leveraging the speed of a startup and the expertise of some of the most seasoned battery experts in the world at Ford, we're exploring different ways to power tomorrow's fun-to-drive all-electric vehicles, using proven development and manufacturing processes."

This technology improves upon existing lithium-ion batteries because solid-state units do not require liquid electrolytes. Solid-state batteries are lighter, more energy-dense, and can deliver improved range and performance at a lower cost. Solid Power has already delivered hundreds of production line-produced battery cells, validated by the BMW Group and Ford.

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Starting next year under a new agreement, Ford will receive full-scale 100-ampere hour (Ah) cells from Solid Power to test and integrate into upcoming electric vehicles like the rumored F-150 Lightning. A separate joint development agreement with Solid Power will allow for specific battery cell designs to streamline integration into future vehicles.

"By simplifying the design of solid-state versus lithium-ion batteries, we'll be able to increase vehicle range, improve interior space and cargo volume, and ultimately deliver lower costs and better value for customers," said Ted Miller, Ford's manager of electrification subsystems and power supply research. "We look forward to delivering these improvements and working with Solid Power to seamlessly and quickly integrate their sulfide-based all-solid-state battery cells into existing lithium-ion cell production processes more efficiently than oxide-based solid-state battery cell makers can."

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