Why Bosch Buying Battery Developer Seeo Is Significant

Last week, Bosch announced it is acquiring a California-based battery company that’s currently developing a solid-state lithium-ion battery.

Bosch’s purchase of Seeo, set at an undisclosed price for the company’s intellectual property and research staff, was both groundbreaking and (to some) questionable.

“It is the first instance of a major automotive player outright acquiring a next-generation battery developer, highlighting the strategic importance of advanced energy storage for the automotive value chain,” noted Lux Research.

“Below the surface, however, the acquisition has some wrinkles that make it a risky bet for Bosch,” said Lux Research Senior Analyst, Cosmin Laslau.

The analyst firm points out high cash burn, unconfirmed claims on production costs and the battery’s required operating temperature of 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit) as some of Seeo’s drawbacks.

Even so, analysts said that Bosch stands to benefit greatly from this arrangement. Solid-state lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have the potential to pack in more energy – effectively doubling the range of a conventional Li-ion battery – while at the same time cutting costs.

“Bosch needs battery capability much faster than it can train its current people to get there. Instead, it is filling its capability gap with the Seeo acquisition,” George Bradt wrote this week in Forbes.

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Seeo call its solid-state technology DryLyte, and said battery packs built with these cells contain no liquids or gels, are non-flammable and are lightweight.

“Solid electrolytes have a number of potential advantages; the one Seeo has developed uses pure lithium, which allows it to store more energy,” said Kevin Bullis in MIT Technology Review. “Other companies have developed batteries with solid electrolytes and pure lithium, but their energy storage capacity – at least for the large batteries needed in electric cars – has typically been less than what Seeo has achieved.”

Brandt refers to Bosch’s purchase as “future capability in action.” If the move pays off, analysts say Bosch will be well positioned to compete against top-selling battery manufactures such as Panasonic and Samsung, with a strong foothold in the home storage and electrified vehicle segments.