Sila, a battery tech startup founded by a former Tesla engineer, plans to build next-generation battery materials in the US to reduce reliance on China

05.03.22

Some of the reasons drivers often cited for not owning electric vehicles (EVs) are cost and lack of charging infrastructure. But the most common reason consumers give for not buying EVs is the concern about the driving range and the fear that the battery will run out of charge.

With all the recent advances, battery technology hasn’t changed that much in over three decades. The EV car market is still dominated by conventional lithium-ion batteries. Most of the electric vehicles on the markets today use cobalt, an essential element in the rechargeable lithium batteries that fuel many electronic devices.

The rise of smartphones in the past 20 years has created a large demand for metal, and the growing popularity of electric cars is expected to further increase demand. For many years, Apple, Google, Tesla, and other big tech companies have been accused of profiting from child labor in African cobalt mines.

But that’s beginning to change. Late last month, Tesla announced that close to half of all its current vehicles being produced at all its Giga factories are being produced with cobalt-free iron phosphate, which is also known as LFP batteries. However, Tesla is not alone.

Sila Nanotechnologies is a San Francisco-based battery tech startup founded by a former Tesla engineer that’s on a mission to produce silicon battery material that offers market-proven, boosted performance and quality control—without compromising cycle life, power, or safety. “The lithium-ion batteries that sustain our lives aren’t equipped to power our future,” the company said on its website.

Today, Sila announced its plans for U.S.-based mass production of next-generation materials aimed at cutting costs, boosting driving ranges, and reducing the industry’s reliance on China. As part of the plan, Sila CEO Gene Berdichevsky told Reuters that the company will invest in the low hundreds of millions of dollars in a new plant in Washington state due to open in 2024.

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