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May 03, 2022

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1 big thing: Sila ramps up production

Three batteries as the bars of a bar chart, increasing in size.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

The battery materials startup Sila has bought a 600,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Washington to vastly expand production for EVs, Alan reports.

Why it matters: Sila claims that its silicon-based anodes enable batteries to have 20% more energy density — meaning 20% longer range for an EV.

  • The company, which counts BMW and Mercedes as partners, replaces graphite with silicon in anodes, which it says produces a better battery.
  • "You can have a car with a longer range. Or, instead of building a car with 1,000 cells inside, you can build a battery pack with 800 cells or 700 cells, and that makes it cheaper," Sila CEO Gene Berdichevsky tells Alan.

What's happening: The new factory, about 177 miles east of Seattle, will be roughly 200 times larger than Sila's current manufacturing facility — and could expand even more.

  • "We’re onto the third stage, scale. And that’s the hardest part," Berdichevsky says. The first two stages were proving the science and proving the market, he says.

By the numbers: Sila's current facility, in Alameda, California, has nameplate capacity of 50 megawatt-hours (MWh), a spokesperson tells Alan.

  • Sila's initial investment at the new facility in Moses Lake, Washington, will amount to 10 gigawatt-hours (GWh), the spokesperson says.
  • The facility could then expand to 150 GWh.

Of note: The company in September began supplying silicon battery materials for fitness-tracker Whoop.

What's next: Sila is aiming to begin production lines in the second half of 2024, with full-scale production starting the following year.

  • "The earliest you might drive a Sila-powered vehicle is right at the end of 2025," Berdichevsky says.

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