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GM Ventures invests in EV advanced battery startup Soelect

FILE PHOTO: The new GM logo is seen on the facade of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 16, 2021.REUTERS/Rebecca Cook/File Photo

(Reuters) – General Motors Co is among the investors in a North Carolina startup developing fast-charging lithium-metal batteries for future electric vehicles, the companies said Thursday.

Two-year-old Soelect announced a Series A raise of $11 million from GM Ventures, KTB Network and Lotte Ventures, an affiliate of Korea’s Lotte Chemical.

Based in Greensboro, Soelect was founded in 2018 by Jin Cho, a 25-year battery veteran who has worked previously with LG, Samsung and Johnson Controls.

Cho said Soelect has more than 20 customers, mostly in the automotive industry.

GM’s interest in Soelect dovetails with its previous investment in and strategic partnership with Massachusetts battery startup SES, which is scheduled to go public this year.

GM and SES, a 10-year-old spinout from MIT, have been jointly developing lithium-metal batteries since 2015, according to the battery maker.

EV batteries with lithium-metal anodes hold the promise of storing more energy — thus providing longer range between charges for EVs — as well as the ability to charge much faster than vehicles equipped current lithium-ion batteries that typically use graphite or silicon-rich anodes.

Spokesman Darryll Harrison said GM’s investment in Soelect “complements” the automaker’s partnership with SES and “further expands our efforts to accelerate the advancement of battery chemistries.”

Harrison said Soelect’s lithium-metal technology “could serve as an enabler for both future lithium-metal and solid-state EV battery anode designs.”

SES, also known as SolidEnergy Systems, also has drawn investment from automakers Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, Geely Automobile and SAIC Motor, as well as battery makers LG and SK, according to investor website PitchBook. (This story corrects founding date of company, paragraph 3)

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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