I hope you'll have the capacity for a good read today!
The Solid Bunch
Solid Power, the solid-state battery maker is reportedly in talks to go public via a merger with SPAC called Decarbonization Plus Acquisition Corp. III ($DCRC).
The blank-check firm is seeking to raise more than $100 million in new equity to support a transaction that’s set to value the combined entity at about $1.2B, including debt, a source said to Bloomberg. (link)
We've talked about Solid Power before, mainly on the news of Ford, BMW, and Volta Energy investing in the company (#30). Series A also saw investments from Samsung and Hyundai.
This linked Solid Power as the candidate to build out BMW's promised solid-state battery before 2025 (link). Most likely Ford's Ion Park, the new $185M battery R&D center, will be connected to this development too (#28).
ℹ️ What are Solid-State Batteries? As the name implies, the solid-state batteries replace the liquid electrolyte in a conventional lithium-ion battery with a highly stable solid ion-conducting material.
Why do it? QuantumScape says it will extend the range up to 50% comparing to Li-ion and reduce the charging time to 'just 15 minutes'.
Here's a quick video from QuantumScape for a light(ish) view of what a Solid-State Li-metal battery is:
Solid Power's pivot... or expansion?
Until recently, Solid Power had only been developing the battery with a lithium-metal anode, planning to use the investment round money to scale up to 100 Ah cells which are suitable for commercial EVs. Its 2nd gen 20 Ah battery cells are already produced in a pilot production line. In May, however, the company announced it will moving forward with an "All-Solid-State Platform", which includes three unique battery designs (link):
The company added the design of silicon anode, which they plan to scale to 20 Ah by the end of this year and 100 Ah next year. The goal is for the silicon anode to be ready for use in EVs in 2026 and the li-metal anodes in 2027.
Solid State is the buzz right now
Major automakers are betting (not all-in though) on the solid-state battery makers of their own choosing. The biggest name in town so far, QuantumScape, is well funded by Volkswagen Group and the SeS (formerly SolidEnergy Systems) saw a recent $139M injection from General Motors.
It is expected that Solid Power's batteries hit the commercial EV market before QuantumScape, regarding the progress SP has made on the pilot production lines.
You might have heard that QuantumScape has already done a wild ride on the stock market, reaching a peak of $132.7 on Dec 22nd last year. It briefly surpassed the valuation of Ford Motor Co! And then it fell. It sits at around $26.6 today with a $10.8B market cap, about 80% lower from its all-time-high.
Here's a good longer read from Bloomberg on Quantumscape (link).
I'm proposing two questions.
- if the $DCRC deal is valued at a $1.2B, and Solid Power keeps showing promise, will we see another crazy run like with Quantumscape?
- will the EV industry truly be revolutionized by solid-state batteries, making Li-ion history? And if so, who will win this solid-state battery arms race?
I'll be watching.
DISCLAIMER: As always, nothing in this newsletter is financial advice. I know nothing of the financial innings of the EV companies, I'm just trying to piece together the bigger picture. aka - make your own damn decisions.
- Our Stock Tracker (link) got two additions. The $DCRC SPAC that potentially merges with Solid Power (row #61) and Orocobre, the Lithium mining company (row #89) - I don't know how I missed that one earlier on. Hat tip to Stephan for reminding me!
- Polestar and SK Inc signed MoU to collaborate in EV battery technology and associated systems (link).
- +50GWh by 2030: FREYR in negotiations to build a battery factory in the US (link).
- Northvolt raised another $2.75B in equity, led by Goldman Sachs and Volkswagen Group ($620M). VW share stays at 20%. $6.5B raised total. (link)
- VW, Daimler, BASF, and Fairphone launched a responsible lithium mining initiative in Chile (link).
- Gaussin orders batteries for electric trucks from Microvast, 1.5GWh by 2026 and 29 GWh by 2031 (pdf).
- SK Innovation received a $500M loan for the Hungarian plant (link).
- EnerTech buys battery cell production license from Enevate for its XFC-Energy silicon-dominated anode technology (link).
- Samsung upped its NCA batteries' nickel content from 88% to 91%, eyeing 94%. This reduces costs and increases energy density (link)
- Honda + Komatsu = electrified micro excavators with swappable batteries (link).
- Apple is reportedly in talks with CATL and BYD for the battery supply for the Apple Car (link).
- IAV developed a battery assembly concept that makes recycling easier, saves 20% of the CO2 emissions (link).
- ATLIS made its first production-level unit of the AMV battery cell, designed for the medium-to heavy-duty truck platform XP (video)
- NanoGraf enabled, what it says to be, the highest energy density 18650 cylindrical lithium-ion cells in the world, with a 28% longer run time (link).
Battery tweet of the week:
📺 What I'm watching
- InterBattery 2021 in South Korea, one of the largest battery exhibitions in the world (video).
- QuantumScape's CEO Jagdeep Singh in an interview with Sandy Munro (video).
- QuantumScape hired Celina Mikolajczak, the former VP of battery technology at Panasonic Energy of North America, as the new VP of Manufacturing Engineering. " In her new role, Ms. Mikolajczak will lead the transition of the Company’s tools and manufacturing processes from research and development to production, " the filing read (link).
📚 What I'm reading
- National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries report by the Department of Energy in the US, that details a 10-year government-wide plan to develop a domestic lithium battery supply chain, with an emphasis on job creation. Full report here (pdf), fact sheet here (link).
- Who is Morris Chang and why does [/should] everyone be like him - we need the TSMC's emerge for the battery industry. (link)
- The Dark Side of Congo's Cobalt Rush - almost half of the world's known cobalt supply is in Southern Congo, but the locals rarely get rewarded. (link). S/o to Reilly at FoT Trucks for pointing at the article.
🤔 A battery puzzle:
- What do you call a man that dresses up as a battery for Halloween?
(The answer is at the end of the newsletter. Since I made it up, if you chuckled, you have to share it)
This letter went out to 1,190 subscribers.
You can ☕ buy me a coffee to add zap to my writing to keep me going. ⚡
* Answer: a Batman.