Mercedes-Benz plans to use a high-efficiency battery anode in a new electric SUV to be supplied by Sila, an upstart battery materials company led by an early Tesla engineer who says its new technology generation increases energy density and possibly can lower the cost of lithium-ion packs.
The luxury car company, which initially invested in Sila in 2019, plans to be the first automotive customer for Sila’s material, which will enter battery-powered Mercedes-Benz G-Class SUVs by around 2025. The new silicon-based anode offers up to 40 percent improvement in energy density and improves range per charge, Mercedes said. The companies did not provide financial details of the supply agreement.
“Sila has come a long way since we established our strategic partnership in 2019,” Mercedes-Benz Chief Technology Officer Markus Schäfer said in a statement. “Offering such high energy density is a real game-changer and allows us to think in completely new directions when developing future electric cars.”
The news comes after Alameda, Calif.-based Sila said this month it was building a plant in Moses Lake, Wash., to manufacture its battery anodes. The plant will produce enough anode material for the batteries of half a million electric vehicles per year in its first phase. Over time, the plant, which is due to begin operations in 2024, could expand to produce enough of its material for the batteries of millions of electric vehicles.
The anodes are one of the four main elements of a battery, along with the cathode, the separator material and the electrolyte. The active material with which it is covered, usually graphite, allows the electric current to pass through the external circuit and also allows the absorption of lithium ions from the cathode.
“We are focused on delivering materials that are cost-effective and capable of delivering on the promise of electric vehicles, working to ensure longer-range energy, improved charging times and lower battery cost per kWh,” said Sila co-founder and CEO Gene. Berdichevsky.
Berdichevsky was Tesla’s seventh employee, hired in 2004 as a lead battery engineer for the Roadster, the company’s first attempt at an electric car. At the time of his release, he was more interested in finding new ways to make the lithium-ion batteries he was working with much cheaper and more efficient. He co-founded Sila in 2011 and has raised $925 million over the past decade, including around $600 million in early 2021, to develop his silicon-based technology and fund the first phase of the Washington plant. .