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Daimler Acquires Stake in Sila Technologies to Develop Next-Gen EV Batteries

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【Summary】Daimler AG has acquired a minority equity stake in U.S. battery materials company Sila Nanotechnologies Inc. (Sila Nano) as part of its research and development of advanced batteries for electric vehicles.

Eric Walz    Apr 16, 2019 3:45 PM PT
Daimler Acquires Stake in Sila Technologies to Develop Next-Gen EV Batteries

Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes Benz, has acquired a minority equity stake in U.S. battery materials company Sila Nanotechnologies Inc (Sila Nano) as part of its research and development of advanced batteries for electric vehicles.

Along with the equity stake, Daimler will get a seat in the Board of Directors of Sila Nano. The investment is part of the Silo Nano's latest round of financing, which was led by Daimler.

The automaker says the battery pack itself defines the characteristics of an electric vehicle with respect to performance, range and charging times. Therefore, developing more advanced EV batteries is an important part of Daimler's electrification strategy—and a necessary one.

Mercedes-Benz Cars is investing around $11 billion in the expansion of its electric EQ brand. Daimler expects electric models to make up between 15 and 25 percent of Mercedes-Benz Cars total sales by 2025.

"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." said Sajjad Khan, Executive Vice President for Connected, Autonomous, Shared & Electric Mobility, Daimler AG.

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Improvements to traditional lithium-ion battery chemistry are reaching their theoretical limits and Sila Nano's team of scientists and engineers have made advancements in the development of a silicon battery chemistry.

Sila Nano developed "silicon-based nanoparticles" that can form a high capacity anode material for lithium-ion batteries. Silicon has almost ten times the theoretical capacity of the material most often used in lithium batteries.

The company is working to replace a battery's conventional graphite electrodes entirely with its proprietary silicon-dominant composite materials that enable high energy density. This translates to more powerful, longer-range batteries for electric vehicles. Silo Nano says that its materials can improve the energy density of batteries by percent.

"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," said Gene Berdichevsky, co-founder and CEO of Sila Nano.

These materials integrated into the existing lithium-ion battery production process, making it possible to deploy efficiently and at scale.

One drawback is that silicon tends to swell during charging, causing damage to the battery. To address this, Sila Nano is developing silicon-based anode materials that are porous enough to accommodate the expansion, which may lead to longer-lasting batteries for electric vehicles.

Daimler is also investing more than $1 billion in a global battery production network. The company purchases the cells on the world market and is instructing the suppliers to produce based on the automaker's specifications. In this way, the company is securing itself the best possible technology.

The global battery production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars will in the future consist of nine factories on three continents.

In March 2018, Daimler rival BMW announced its own partnership with Sila Nano to develop more advanced EV batteries. BMW plans to incorporate silicon anode technology in a plug-in electric vehicle by 2023.


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