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The electric Mercedes G-Class will go far with Sila’s high energy density silicon anodes – TechCrunch

Mercedes-Benz today announced that Sila’s high-energy-density silicon anode is slated for an extended-range version of the electric G-Class due out in 2025.

Sila said its silicon anode material can increase energy density by 20% to 40% over existing cells, allowing longer range from batteries that occupy the same physical space. That extra density will come in handy to fuel 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 that it had purchased a 600,000 square foot factory in Moses Lake, Washington. The plant is expected to start producing battery materials in late 2024 before reaching full production in early 2025, just in time for the G-Class. It is expected to produce enough silicon anode material for 100,000 to 500,000 electric vehicles, 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 small device with a battery that’s a tiny fraction of what’s needed for an EV. Nevertheless, the smaller scale will allow Sila to perfect its manufacturing technique, correcting problems before multiplying by 100 to reach the volumes required by car manufacturers.

The first phase of the company’s Washington plant will produce 10 GWh of battery materials per year, but CEO Gene Berdichevsky told TechCrunch earlier this month that the second phase will increase output to 150 GWh.

Getting to this point won’t be cheap. Berdichevsky estimated that it would cost an additional $1–2 billion to bring the second phase of the plant into production. The company raised $933 million in total, 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 have stepped up their commitments to electric vehicles, venture capitalists and private equity firms have been investing increasingly large sums in battery companies – some $43 billion in the last five years alone.

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