Sila Nanotechnologies, a Silicon Valley battery materials company cofounded and led by a former Tesla engineer, raised an additional $590 million for the production of its silicon-based anodes that improve the efficiency of batteries for electric vehicles and consumer electronics.
The Series F round was led by Coatue Management and boosts Sila Nano’s valuation to an estimated $3.3 billion, the Alameda, California-based company said. It also raises total funding to date for the Daimler-backed tech firm to about $930 million. Sila Nano, which is also working with BMW and Japan’s Amperex Technology Limited, or ATL, plans to use the new funds to set up a North American plant that will open in 2024 and eventually produce anode materials for 100 GWh of batteries annually, enough for 1 million electric vehicles.
The round is “everything we need to get started and producing from that factory, but it’s not everything we need for that whole plant,” cofounder and CEO Gene Berdichevsky tells Forbes. “To get to a million EVs we will need more capital, but it’s sufficient to get production flowing out of that facility.”
The news comes as the Biden Administration is prioritizing vastly greater U.S. production of electric vehicles and batteries as part of a broad-based effort to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Along with new federal plans to replace gas- and diesel-powered vehicles with electric ones, the U.S. is also readying a push to get at least 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations set up across the country.
Sila Nano says its materials allow battery makers to produce lighter, safer, more energy-dense batteries, which can lower the cost of electric vehicles. Its silicon-based anode, designed to replace graphite used in lithium-ion batteries, offers a 20% improvement in efficiency over current cells and could eventually boost efficiency by 50%, according to the company.
Ahead of production for electric cars, consumer electronics including fitness trackers, wireless earbuds and smartwatches using Sila Nano’s tech will arrive this year, Berdichevsky said. He declined to identify which companies will make and sell those products.
A site for the factory hasn’t been identified yet, though it’s likely to be in the U.S., he said. Silo Nano isn’t currently planning to list shares via a SPAC deal, though it may apply for a low-interest federal ATVM loan that could provide additional funds for a plant, Berdichevsky said.
“We believe Sila Nano has created a battery technology that is new, groundbreaking, and has a clear path to scale and broad adoption,” said Jaimin Rangwalla, a senior managing director for Coatue Management.
Existing investors in Sila Nano including 8VC, Bessemer Venture Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Sutter Hill Ventures also invested in the F round.