Mercedes-Benz said today that it is forming a joint venture with Factorial Energy* to develop next-generation battery technology. The actual equity stake Mercedes took in Factorial was not disclosed. The testing of prototype cells is promised as early as next year. The goal of the partnership is to start with the cell and extend development to include entire modules and integration into the vehicle battery. Implicit in the announcement is the need to be able to access the capital markets for what will be an expansive and expensive transformation of the carbon fuel befouled auto industry. (Mercedes-Benz – New Platforms Electric Only From 2025; EV Battery Gold-Rush – GM and Wolfspeed Cut Deal)
Solid-state batteries exist as vaporware currently. They are enticing because of the difference in the use of an electrolyte that is made of solid material instead of the commonly used liquid electrolyte. The electrolyte, of course, is needed to transport ions back and forth between the electrodes when charging and discharging the battery. Solid electrolytes promise optimization of battery safety, as well as the use of new types of anodes, such as lithium-metal anodes. These can provide an almost doubled energy density compared to today’s Li-ion battery cells. As a result, they promise an increase in range, while at the same time ensuring shorter charging times. (Ford Ion Park in Southeastern MI is New Global Battery Center; GM to Invest in New Battery Building to Lower EV Costs)
“By accelerating our Mercedes-Benz strategy towards ‘Electric Only’, we have set the course for a fully electric future. We will also play a leading role in the field of battery technology. With Factorial as our new partner, we are taking research and development in the field of promising solid-state batteries to the next level. To this end, we are investing a high double-digit million-dollar amount in Factorial”, said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG; responsible for Daimler Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars COO. (Toyota to Spend $3.4B for US Battery Manufacturing; Stellantis, LG Energy JV for North American Battery Production; Solid Power – More Money from BMW, Ford, Volta Energy Technologies for Solid-State EV Batteries)
*Factorial Energy is based in Woburn, Massachusetts. It claims to have developed solid-state batteries that offer up to 50% longer range per charge, increased safety, and cost parity with conventional lithium-ion batteries. The company’s proprietary “Factorial Electrolyte System Technology” leverages a solid electrolyte material, allows a claimed safe and reliable cell performance with high-capacity cathode and anode materials. FEST is the first solid-state technology that has been scaled to 40Ah cells and works at room temperature and can adopt majority of existing cell manufacturing equipment. The company is validating its technology with several auto manufacturers.