April 3, 2021

Hercules EV opens $20M Series A round; targeting electric pickup in late 2022; Prieto solid-state batteries

Hercules EV opens $20M Series A round; targeting electric pickup in late 2022; Prieto solid-state batteries

Hercules Electric Vehicles—a Detroit-based startup—is opening a $20-million Series A investment round managed by CMD Global Partners, a boutique investment bank. Hercules is developing an all-electric sport pickup truck, the Hercules Alpha, which will be available in late 2022. Hercules expects to demonstrate its first drivable architectural mule in April 2021.

James Breyer founded Hercules Electric Vehicles in 2018 with a vision to bring luxury eco-utility products to market, beginning with an electric pickup truck and followed by other electric mobility products. Hercules vehicles will offer integrated solar charging, long-range batteries and optional fuel-cell range-extender options.

The Alpha will offer powertrain configurations delivering more than 1,000 hp through a torque-vectoring four-motor drive system. The motors provide independent torque control for stability and ultimate high-performance. Hercules will offer a previously unapproached range of customer options for personalizing the Alpha, including fully customized interiors with numerous vegan and natural surfaces available, as well as a configurable Android-based digital experience system.

Hercules is commencing the Series A financing to support product development and add team members; the company currently is scouting locations for production of its components, including solid-state batteries.

Breyer says the automaker intends to use existing industrial capacity wherever possible, paired with a modular design and assembly approach, enabling Hercules to bring eco-utility vehicles to market quickly and with a high level of personalization and craftsmanship.

Hercules recently completed an agreement with Prieto Battery (earlier post)—developer of a 3D solid-state Li-ion rechargeable battery—to co-develop and commercialize solid-state batteries for production in North America.

This Prieto battery architecture is designed around a porous copper structure (copper foam), conformally coated by an ultra-thin polymer electrolyte and then surrounded by a cathode matrix. The result is a three-dimensionally structured lithium-ion battery composed of interpenetrating electrodes with extremely short Li+ diffusion distances and a power density that is orders of magnitude greater than comparable two-dimensional architectures in use today, according to the company.

The use of copper antimonide (Cu2Sb) electrodeposited onto copper foam lends an unprecedented degree of stability to the anode and has already demonstrated excellent capacity over extensive cycling. Such materials and the underlying technologies lend themselves to low cost manufacturing and production scale-up.

Hercules EV opens $20M Series A round; targeting electric pickup in late 2022; Prieto solid-state batteries

How Prieto 3D batteries work. Source: Prieto

Using a novel electrodeposition method, Cu2Sb is directly deposited without the costly requirement of further annealing or other post-treatments. This technique ensures continuous electrical contact throughout the 3D anode. The fabrication of the electrolyte layer is accomplished through an electrochemical polymerization method specifically designed to uniformly encapsulate the entire conductive surface of the anode.

The electrolyte is conformal and very thin to allow for the subsequent interpenetration into the structure by the cathode material. This layer is pin-hole free, which is critical for the overall performance of the battery.

Hercules and Prieto will have the first commercial samples of the solid-state batteries by the end of the year, with production starting in 2023.

In September 2020, Hercules announced an exclusive agreement with Toronto-based Worksport Ltd., which will supply solar tonneau covers for the Alpha, adding as much as 19 miles of range extension daily when parked in the sunlight.

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