Mercedes-Benz today announced that Sila’s energy-dense silicon anode is planned for an expanded version of the electric G-Class due for release in 2025.
Sila said its silicon anode material can increase energy density by 20% to 40% over existing cells, allowing greater range of battery packs occupying the same physical space. That extra density will come in handy when powering Mercedes’ blocky, muscular G-Wagen.
Mercedes first invested in Sila in 2019 as part of a $219 million Series E round. Earlier this month, the startup announced it had purchased a 600,000-square-foot factory in Moses Lake, Washington. The plant is expected to begin rolling out battery materials in late 2024 before reaching full production in early 2025, just in time for the G-Class. It should make enough silicon anode material for 100,000 to 500,000 EVs, depending on how automakers want to incorporate it into their cells.
Today, Sila’s technology is available in the Whoop 4.0 fitness tracker, a tiny device with a battery that’s only a fraction of what an EV needs. Still, the smaller scale will allow Sila to perfect its manufacturing technique, working out the kinks before scaling up 100x to reach the volumes needed by automakers.
The first phase of the company’s Washington plant will produce 10 GWh of battery materials per year, but CEO Gene Berdichevsky told businesstraverse.com earlier this month that the second phase will expand production to 150 GWh.
It won’t be cheap to get to that point. Berdichevsky estimated that it will cost another $1 billion to $2 billion to get the second phase of the plant into production. The company has raised a total of $933 million, according to PitchBook, including a $590 million round that closed in January 2021.
While raising a few billion is never an easy task, Sila could benefit from a tailwind: As automakers ramped up their commitments to EVs, VCs and private equity firms have been investing increasingly large sums of money in battery companies — some $43 billion in EVs. the past five years alone.