EV and eVTOL Li-Metal Battery Producer SES Raises $139 Million Led by GM

By McKenzie Carpenter Monday, April 19, 2021

Today, lithium metal (li-metal) battery startup SES announced it has raised $139 million to help accelerate its battery production for eVTOL and EV products.

A person charging an electric car.

About the Business

Founded in 2012, SES is a startup that produces and manufactures li-metal batteries for EV and eVOTL (electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles) applications. Through the use of li-metal batteries and AI algorithms, the business is able to optimize battery safety and charging.

Formerly known as SolidEnergy Systems, the EV and eVTOL battery startup company has “strong capabilities in material, cell, module, AI-powered safety algorithms, and recycling.” In addition to EV and eVTOL applications, the li-metal batteries produced by the business have even been used in space for high-altitude pseudo satellites (HAPS).

SES has produced three types of batteries: Hermes Cell, Hermes Module, and Apollo Cell. Both Hermes models are used for eVTOL applications, and the Apollo Cell is planned for EV application in 2022.

The startup company claims the li-metal batteries can deliver a significantly longer driving range for electric vehicles, though it does not disclose the exact range. In addition, the batteries charge up to 80% capacity in 15 minutes.

SES is headquartered out of Singapore, with additional locations in Boston, Shanghai, and Seoul.

$139 Million Series D

In the latest Series D financing round, SES announced the startup business raised $139 million led by General Motors (GM). Temasek, SK Inc., Shanghai Auto, and other investors also participated. A valuation for the business was not disclosed.

Last month, GM announced a partnership with SES as part of the automaker’s new initiative to produce electric vehicles. Startup Savant reported in January that GM is launching BrightDrop, its own EV unit. GM’s investment is part of a long-term goal of becoming the world’s largest EV car company.

Matt Tsien, executive vice president and chief technology officer at GM and president at GM Ventures, said in a statement, “GM has been rapidly driving down battery cell costs and improving energy density, and our work with SES technology has incredible potential to deliver even better EV performance for customers who want more range at a lower cost.”

The partnership and new financing will support GM’s mission and help accelerate SES in the EV and eVTOL battery market. The press release states the two companies plan on building a prototyping line for a high-capacity, pre-production battery by 2023 in Woburn, Massachusetts.

Qichao Hu, founder and CEO of the startup company, said in a statement that the new capital would be used to “...accelerate technology development, significantly expand our technical, business and manufacturing teams, and expedite the commercialization of LiMetal batteries.”

GM previously invested in the EV and eVTOL battery producer in 2015 for an undisclosed amount.

The Industry

Electric vehicles and eVTOL aircraft are becoming highly researched industries as more and more companies invest resources into these sectors. Last month, ecommerce giant Amazon began testing electric delivery vans created by Ann Arbor-based EV startup, Rivian.

Grand View Research reported the lithium-ion battery market was valued at $32.9 billion in 2019 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 13% from 2020 to 2027.

About the Author

Headshot of McKenzie Carpenter

McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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