Mercedes parent makes bet on next-generation battery startup

Mercedes parent makes bet on next-generation battery startup
Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to produce electric versions of its popular vehicles. Now its parent company is investing n a next-generation battery startup. (Mercedes-Benz)

As it pushes to electrify its fleet, German automaker Daimler AG has invested in a U.S. startup that says it can boost battery performance by at least 20 percent.

Daimler led a $170 million financing round for Sila Nanotechnologies Inc., a San Francisco Bay Area startup that makes silicon-based anode materials for lithium-ion batteries, according to a statement Tuesday. The startup has raised $295 million to date.

Daimler, which expects electric models to make up at least 15 percent of Mercedes-Benz sales by 2025, will take a seat on Sila’s board. Sila also announced Tuesday that former General Electric Co. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt will join the board.

“Advancements in lithium-ion batteries have become increasingly limited, and we are fighting for incremental improvements,” Immelt said in the statement.

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, the automaker’s Alabama operations, is investing $1 billion in an expansion that includes a battery plant and will lead to electric vehicle production on its Tuscaloosa County plant’s assembly lines.

(Contact the reporter at [email protected].)

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