Porsche invests $100 million in EV-battery startup Group14
10 May 2022
German sports-car manufacturer Porsche is driving ahead with plans to develop high-performance battery cells for electric vehicles (EVs). The Volkswagen (VW) Group-owned brand acquired a stake in US-based battery startup Group14 Technologies for $100 million (€95 million).
Porsche is the lead investor in a recent series C funding round, which saw a set of businesses invest a total of $400 million in Group14. The young company produces advanced silicon-carbon technology for lithium-ion batteries and will use the fresh capital to ramp up production of batteries that can be used for electric vehicles and fast-charging applications.
The investment will allow Porsche to secure a supply of EV-battery materials for its affiliate Cellforce, a joint venture between the carmaker and Customcells Holding. Cellforce will produce battery cells with silicon anodes. These are intended for small-series production, as well as motorsport and high-performance vehicles, making their way into Porsche vehicles in the future.
‘The battery cell is the combustion chamber of the future,’ said Lutz Meschke, Porsche AG deputy chairman of the executive board. ‘Our goal is to be a leading company within the global competition for the most powerful battery cell.’
Powerful EV-battery cells
Demand for battery cells is growing rapidly, and it took German carmakers a while to pay attention to the significance of electric-vehicle technology. Porsche’s strategic investment will make it easier for its Cellforce battery venture to access high-quality technology, helping to make EV batteries more efficient. Car manufacturers are also turning to lithium-silicon because of its compatibility with existing manufacturing processes.
Group14 describes its silicon batteries as ‘breakthrough technology.’ The startup runs a commercial-scale battery-active materials factory in Washington state and is planning to build more plants in the US and South Korea.
The company said its materials help lithium-silicon batteries deliver a 50% higher performance than traditional lithium-ion units and could avoid barriers to high-performance applications. Its technology will allow future batteries to store more energy, providing a greater range than current batteries. Group14’s anode material could also be a game-changer on the path to faster charging times.
New cell chemistry
‘The characteristic properties of the new cell chemistry – fast-charging, high-performance and low weight – pay dividends directly into the Porsche brand core,’ said Michael Steiner, Porsche member of the executive board for research and development. ‘They are virtually in line with the development goals that we are writing in the specifications for our prospective electric sports cars.’
Porsche only has one EV in its lineup, the Taycan. But the carmaker has bold ambitions and expects the share of its new vehicles with an all-electric drive to be more than 80% by 2030. Porsche is also investing in charging stations and its own EV infrastructure offering.
In 2021, the carmaker first announced plans to build a high-performance battery-cell factory. Its venture-capital arm then took a stake in its cooperation partner and battery specialist Customcells. Porsche’s latest investment shows it is serious about powerful cell technology, mirroring VW Group which is in the middle of developing its own EV-battery cells and plans to build six gigafactories in Europe.