General Motors has struck up a deal with SolidEnergy Systems, an MIT grad’s lithium metal battery innovation company. SES plans to use its technologies to create smaller cells with higher energy density, a strategy that GM hopes can slash the cost of battery cells by 60%.
GM announced the partnership on March 11th, adding that it would build a manufacturing prototyping line in Woburn, Massachusetts, for a high-capacity, pre-production battery by 2023.
SES was started by Harvard and MIT grad Qichao Hu, who also gave more details on the partnership with GM.
“In the coming years, SES and GM will work closely to optimize the design and manufacturing of automotive-grade Li-Metal battery cells,” Hu said. “In 2023, we will deliver a high-performance, Li-Metal EV battery prototype intended for production. Our battery technology will be validated through GM’s rigorous qualification process.”
In the past, GM had announced that its Ultium EV battery platform would slash EV costs by 60% by 2025. With the company planning to go completely electric by 2035, GM has around a decade and a half to figure out how it will transition from one of the largest automotive manufacturers in the ICE market to a highly-competitive player in the sector of electric cars. Currently, GM has EVs across the Chevrolet brand in the Chevy Bolt, and has plans to unveil a new variant of the GMC Hummer EV in April. Expanding the company’s product line will require large-scale EV battery production, and SES is the company that has been tasked with this mission.
Earlier this week, Cairn Energy Research Advisors released a report that targeted GM’s battery purchasing costs at $169 per kWh, while the company’s packs are averaging around $207 per kWh. A 60% reduction in cost would benefit GM greatly as it plans to launch a massive offensive into the EV space over the next few years.
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GM invested in SES six years ago in 2015. While the company declined to outline how much it invested into the battery company, they did admit it catalyzed “the start of a close working relationship between SES and General Motors’ research and development organization.”
The first generation Ultium batteries will begin deployment in the GMC Hummer EV later this year and is the initial segment of a $27 billion investment plan into electric cars for GM.