Massachusetts startup Factorial Energy claims its solid-state battery technology is “safer than conventional lithium-ion technology, extends driving range by 20 to 50 percent, and is drop-in compatible for easy integration into existing lithium-ion battery manufacturing infrastructure.” Hyundai’s Cradle division — the concept tech folks who brought its Elevate walking vehicle to CES 2019 — has been working with Factorial for a while, now the mothership is getting involved. Hyundai and Kia have signed an agreement to jointly test and develop Factorial’s solid-state for future Hyundai Group vehicles, the agreement including the OEM making a “strategic investment” in the startup.
First, the batteries. What’s called the Factorial Electrolyte System Technology (FEST) relies on a proprietary, solid electrolyte to create cells with high-voltage and high-capacity electrodes. In April of this year, Factorial emerged from “stealth mode” with a 40 Amp-hour solid-state battery cell for EVs that works at room temperature. The company announced that packs with its FEST tech perform better than Li-ion units “without sacrificing pack longevity, and surpass prevailing EV battery performance standards, including those for energy density, cycle life, and safety.” On top of that, CEO Siyu Huang said the build process for her company’s batteries makes them compatible with lithium-ion battery manufacturing and Li-ion charging infrastructure.
This is Factorial’s first official public partnership with an OEM. Hyundai and Kia will team with Factorial on every step of battery integration, from the cell to manufacturing and integration into OEM vehicles. There’s no timeline for a retail debut, but the venture could have Toyota and BMW to watch for guidance, both OEMs having invested heavily in trying to get solid-state batteries in production vehicles well before the end of the decade.