Battery developer SES taps GM’s Rohit Makharia as president, COO

Battery developer SES taps GM’s Rohit Makharia as president, COO

SES, formerly SolidEnergy Systems, has tapped Rohit Makharia, who led battery development for the Chevrolet Bolt, as president and COO, effective immediately. This month SES agreed to jointly develop lithium-metal batteries with General Motors.

Makharia, 43, has worked for GM for nearly two decades, most recently as senior investment manager for GM Ventures. He will be based at the SES U.S. headquarters in Boston.

GM is an SES shareholder, and the automaker has invested in SES through GM Ventures.

SES specializes in the development of battery cells, modules, AI-powered algorithms for battery maintenance, recycling and battery materials. Makharia was an SES board member before his appointment as COO and president.

“What really excited me about joining SES was the fact that the company is going through an inflection point,” Makharia told Automotive News. “The next step is here. And we need to get ready to commercialize.”

GM is the only automaker that has publicly announced an agreement with SES, but the battery company says it has partnerships with other automakers.

“We really care about the performance capability we can deliver to the OEMs,” Qichao Hu, founder and CEO of SES, told Automotive News. “Lithium metal really allows you to push the envelope of capability much beyond … lithium ion. We want to stay with lithium metal, improve the safety, improve the cycle, improve the efficiency. Lithium ion was in the industry for 30 years. I think lithium metal can be here for the next 30.”

GM has said the lithium metal chemistry could more than halve battery costs and double energy density compared with the current battery packs that power the Chevrolet Bolt.

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SES also promoted Yongkyu Son to chief technology officer and Dr. Hong Gan to chief science officer.

“The impressive backgrounds of this leadership team exemplify how SES is able to cross the chasm that exists today in the electric battery market,” Hu said in a statement. “We are not only producing battery materials, but building a vertically-integrated Li-metal battery cell company. With this team in place, we are well-positioned to help shape the future of EVs.”

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