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Daimler takes minority stake in Sila Nanotechnologies; next-generation lithium-ion battery materials

Daimler AG has acquired a minority equity stake in US battery material specialist Sila Nanotechnologies Inc. (Sila Nano) (earlier post) as part of Daimler’s research and development activities in support of electromobility.

Founded in 2011, Sila Nano is a developer of new battery materials which outperform existing lithium-ion technologies. Along with the acquisition of the equity stake Daimler will get a seat in the Board of Directors of Sila Nano. The investment forms part of Sila Nano’s $170-million Series E financing, which was led by Daimler.

Sila Nano replaces conventional graphite electrodes entirely with its proprietary silicon-dominant composite materials that enable high energy density and high cycle life, which translates to more powerful, longer-range and enduring sources of power for electric vehicles.

Sila

Sila Nano’s chemistry demonstrates a 20% improvement today, with the potential to reach 40% improvement over state-of-the-art traditional li-ion. These materials easily drop into existing Li-ion factories, making it possible to deploy efficiently and at scale.

This breakthrough chemistry demonstrates up to 20 percent improvement today, with the potential to reach further improvements over state of the art traditional Li-ion. We’re excited to be working with Daimler to bring better, more energy-dense batteries to their fleet and bring our shared vision for the future of electric vehicles to life for more people.

—Gene Berdichevsky, co-founder and CEO of Sila Nano

This latest round brings Sila Nano’s total funding to $295 million, with a current valuation of $1 billion. With the latest round of financing secured, Sila Nano has begun ramping up production volume and plans to supply its first commercial customers in consumer electronics within the next year. Sila Nano will continue to scale up production in the next few years with plans to go to market with automaker partners BMW (earlier post) and Daimler.

While our all-new EQC model enters the markets this year we are already preparing the way for the next generation of powerful battery electric vehicles. Lithium-ion technology is currently the most efficient battery technology available, and still shows plenty of potential for the future. The advancements Sila Nano have made in battery performance are very promising. We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation, pooling our know-how on further development and fast commercialization.

—Sajjad Khan, Executive Vice President for Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Electric Mobility, Daimler AG

As an integral and important element of Daimler’s electrification strategy, the company is consistently expanding competencies for the technological evaluation of materials and cells as well as research and development activities. These include the continuous optimization of the current generation of Li-Ion battery systems, the further development of cells bought on the world market and research of the next-generation battery systems.

By 2022, the entire Mercedes-Benz Cars product range is set to be electrified. This means that different electrified alternatives will be available in every segment—from the 48-volt electrical system (EQ Boost), plug-in hybrids (EQ Power) and more than ten all-electric vehicles (EQ) powered by batteries or fuel cells.

Daimler expects electric models to already make up between 15 and 25 percent of Mercedes-Benz Cars total sales by 2025, depending on the framework conditions such as the development of the infrastructure, the individual customer preferences and the further development of the particular market-specific legal situation.

Mercedes-Benz Cars is investing around €10 billion in the expansion of its product portfolio comprised under the EQ brand. Furthermore, Daimler is investing more than one billion euros in a global battery production network within the worldwide production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The company purchases the cells on the world market and is instructing the suppliers to produce based on special specifications. In this way, the company is securing itself the best possible technology.

With the purchase of battery cells for more than €20 billion, the company is establishing the preconditions for the consistent change towards an electrical future. The global battery production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars will in the future consist of nine factories on three continents.

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