Battery Startup Ionic Materials Gets $65M Jolt From Nissan & Others

[Updated 2/16/18, 5:27 pm. See below.] Big automakers are betting that solid-state battery technology from Massachusetts-based startup Ionic Materials could eventually challenge the standard lithium-ion batteries used in today’s electric vehicles.

Woburn, MA-based Ionic announced Wednesday it secured $65 million in a Series C funding round. The investors include Alliance Ventures—a venture capital fund backed by carmakers Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault—as well as Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy, according to reports by Bloomberg and the Boston Business Journal. Joy previously invested in Ionic and sits on its board, according to a press release. A123 Systems, the lithium-ion battery maker for cars, said it has also invested in Ionic. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers has also backed Ionic, and partner Jan van Dokkum chairs the startup’s board. [Updated to include A123 investment.—Eds.]

Ionic is developing solid polymer electrolyte materials aimed at replacing the liquid—and flammable—electrolyte used in current batteries. Ionic says its technology could enable safer, cheaper, and longer-lasting batteries for electric vehicles, consumer electronics, and energy grid storage.

But it’s still early days. The company will use the funding to expand its 40-person staff and set up a pilot production facility in Woburn, the Boston Business Journal reported. Ionic also has an agreement with the Alliance automakers to conduct joint research and development.

Jeff Engel is a senior editor at Xconomy. Email: jengel@xconomy.com Follow @JeffEngelXcon

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