Despite weak consumer demand, EVs are the future: Sila CEO


Car manufacturers like General Motors (GM) and Ford (F) have scaled back their electric vehicle production plans amid weaker demand. Sila co-founder and CEO Gene Berdichevsky joins Asking for a Trend to discuss the state of the EV market and how Sila fits in.

Sila is a battery manufacturer that seeks to improve the safety, charging performance, and life cycle of EV batteries. “I think we’re seeing a slowdown because EVs are just not meeting all of the mainstream consumer adoption expectations. So what consumers really want to see is longer range, faster recharge time. I think we’ve been very, very focused on cost as the primary driver,” Berdichevsky explains. However, he still believes that EVs are the future of the industry, and it might just take longer to get to that point as infrastructure improvements need to be made.

He compares EVs to the iPhone, explaining, “The first people that bought an iPhone were also early adopters. It was expensive at the time… But that began a product evolution that consumers ultimately got behind. And I think we’re going to see the same thing here. We’re going to have better EVs coming on the market in the next few years, and that will reignite and reaccelerate the growth.”

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Asking for a Trend.

This post was written by Melanie Riehl

Video Transcript

Electric vehicle enthusiasm is stolen out here.

Over the past few months.

Carmakers like GM and Ford have pivoted or scaled back their EV production plans as demand proves weaker than forecasted.

For more on the EV market.

We have Gene Bertos, co founder and CEO of SA A battery manufacturer that aims to improve the safety charging performance and life cycle of EV batteries.

Gene.

It is great to have you on the show and I wanna let me start big picture Gene as we sort of hinted there, you know, you look at EV sales growth gene.

It is not what it once was.

I’m interested to get your take on why you think that is and what’s gonna jump start it from here?

II I think we’re seeing a slowdown because EVs are just not meeting all of the mainstream consumer um adoption uh expectations.

So what we, what consumers really want to see is longer range, faster recharge time.

Um I think we’ve been very, very focused on cost as the primary driver and now you have evs that are, that are quite well priced, but we need to continue to improve performance as well as the charging infrastructure.

I do think that this is a temporary slowdown in adoption.

This isn’t a change in direction.

All the automakers still agree that electric is the future.

The question is uh it may take a year or two longer to get there.

Gene one skeptical take, I hear and I want to get your take on this.

You’ll hear people say, you know that big bump we saw with ev growth that was first movers that was first adopters.

Now they’ve come and gone and growth ahead just won’t look like that again.

What, what’s your response to that?

I, I think that was first adopters, but those first adopters are also the leaders in a trend and uh at some point, EVs are going to hit the performance marks that consumers across the board expect.

Uh And we’re going to continue to grow, think of that as the first people that bought an iphone were also early adopters.

It was expensive at the time.

You know, it, it, it was a little bit better than, than what was before, but that began uh you know, a product evolution that consumers ultimately got behind.

And I think we’re going to see the same thing here.

We’re gonna have better evs coming on the market in the next few years and that’ll reignite uh and re accelerate the, the growth gene.

So let’s pivot, let’s talk about your start up sa what are you all trying to do?

Do there.

As I understand that, you know, the mission here is to help EVs kind of drive uh farther charge faster.

That’s right.

So we make a silicon material that boosts the performance of today’s lithium ion batteries.

We’re able to deliver about 20 to 25% more range uh in the same volume and weight of a battery pack.

So imagine any of the evs that you’re looking at today having 20 25% more range just with a chemistry upgrade.

Uh We’re also able to drive down recharge times.

Ultimately, we believe we can cut the recharge time in half.

Uh And, and that would obviously be a very big deal and longer term as we get to large scale production, we’ll also drive down the cost of the battery pack, which of course still remains an important consumer consideration.

So we’re really working to address all three of those things.

Uh range recharge time and cost for consumers is their gene right now.

Is there a, is there a meaningful difference in cost right now between your batteries and those traditional rechargeable batteries?

Our, our, our technology costs has a very small uh cost premium today.

We’re, we’re still at uh uh emerging company and we’re still at small scale.

And so we’re tending to go after higher end vehicles.

Our, our first uh announced customer was Mer Mercedes.

Uh and their plans are to launch us in their uh electric uh G class vehicle to start.

But then we all certainly want to move uh downstream to, to, to broader markets.

And, um, and so we’re, we’re, we’re working through that.

Um We, we have a, a road map uh for that that, um, and, and then our second announced partner was Panasonic.

So again, we’re starting at the higher end and then we’ll work uh towards uh towards mass market vehicles in the coming years.

And what is broadly gene kind of that the broader market for EV batteries like right now, you know how healthy, how resilient is it.

And I’m also interested just geopolitically, gene who, who kind of, who dominates that market, who leads it?

Is it the US or is it China?

It’s definitely China led right now and I think that that there’s a huge concentration there.

Um And, and why is that, why is that uh low cost, low cost of production?

And also just historically, that’s where a lot of batteries have been produced, Korea and Japan also do very well.

And that’s where really the industry was for consumer electronics, batteries.

And so the EV battery industry grew up out of that.

So the US is playing catch up because we never had a battery industry in consumer electronics and the Asian countries had a 30 year head start.

So it’s not just China, it’s also Korea, it’s also Japan.

What the US has an opportunity to do is really lead with new technologies like SAS.

So rather than playing catch up trying to make the exact same battery that is being produced in China using new technology, next generation chemistry, next generation performance.

That’s really where the US can lead.

J really interesting discussion.

Thank you for taking the time to hop on the show today.

I appreciate it.

Thank thanks for having me on.



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