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Mercedes-Benz and Stellantis invest in solid-state battery tech

European duo joins Hyundai-Kia in taking stake in US-based Factorial Energy

3 Dec 2021

MERCEDES-BENZ and the Stellantis Group have taken an undisclosed financial stake in US-based solid-state battery developer Factorial Energy. 


The announcement follows a similar agreement made between Hyundai-Kia and Factorial Energy in October and will see the European duo jointly develop next-generation battery technology with the aim of testing prototype cells as early as 2022.


The collaboration aims to significantly improve the energy density (and therefore driving range) of EV battery packs. Factorial Energy claims its “breakthrough solid-state batteries” offer up to 50 per cent longer range per charge and increased safety at a similar price point to conventional lithium-ion units.


“(The partnerships will) accelerate our ability to commercialise our core technology. With our new partners, we can develop batteries that not only enable safer, longer-range vehicles, but are also compatible with traditional lithium-ion environments,” Factorial Energy CEO and co-founder Siyu Huang said.


In April this year, Factorial Energy announced a 40-Ah solid electrolyte cell, which it says will increase EVs’ driving range by between 20 to 50 per cent. The theory was tested in July, when a retention capacity of 97.3 per cent after 675 cycles (at 25 degrees Celsius) was achieved.


“Factorial Energy’s advances are based on Factorial Electrolyte System Technology, which leverages a proprietary solid electrolyte material that enables safe and reliable cell performance with high-voltage and high-capacity electrodes at room temperature,” Ms Huang explained.


“Earlier this year, Factorial became the first to reach the 40-Amp-hour benchmark with a solid-state cell that works at room temperature, demonstrating the scalability of the FEST electrolyte.”


The company says its newly developed battery technology is compatible with almost all existing EV battery production facilities and will easily integrate into vehicles utilising existing lithium-ion packs, which suggests that both Mercedes-Benz and the Stellantis Group will be able to fast-track the adoption of solid-state batteries into their future electric models.


“By accelerating our electric-only strategy, we have set the course for a fully electric future. We will also play a leading role in the field of battery technology,” Mercedes-Benz COO Markus Schafer said.


“With Factorial Energy 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 making a high double-digit million-dollar investment in Factorial Energy.


“With this cooperation, we will combine Mercedes-Benz’s expertise in battery development and vehicle integration with the comprehensive know-how of our partner Factorial Energy in the field of solid-state batteries. 


“We share the common vision of CO2 neutrality (and) the continuous development of innovative battery technologies will make electric mobility even more attractive for customers,” he added.


The stake from the Stellantis Group follows the company’s September announcement of a joint venture with European battery specialists Automotive Cell Company (ACC). Funded in part by German state- and federal governments, the JV will see batteries produced at the Opel plant in Kaiserslautern “within two years”, with a second French facility due to come online in 2024.


“Our investment in Factorial Energy, and other highly recognised battery partners, boost the speed and agility needed to provide cutting-edge technologies for our electric vehicle portfolio,” Stellantis Group CEO Carlos Tavares said.


“Initiatives like these will yield a faster time to market and more cost-effective transition to solid-state (battery) technology,” he added.


In July, the Stellantis Group said it was targeting more than 70 per cent of sales in Europe and over 40 per cent in the US to be low-emission vehicles – either BEV or hybrid electric – by 2030.


The company wants four platforms for its proposed battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which will be offered in numerous segments, from micro-cars to vans, SUVs and 4x4 utes.

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