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Porsche leads $400 million investment in EV battery startup Group14

FILE PHOTO: Car show in Oslo

By Paul Lienert

(Reuters) - Electric vehicle battery startup Group14 has raised $400 million from a group of investors led by Germany's Porsche, the firm said on Wednesday.

Part of that money, which boosts Group14's valuation to more than a billion dollars, will be used to build a second battery materials factory in eastern Washington state, a few hours from the firm's current site in Woodinville, outside Seattle, Chief Executive Officer Rick Luebbe said in an interview.

Luebbe described the firm's silicon-carbon anode material as "transformational technology" that will enable EV batteries to charge more quickly and hold more energy than those that use graphite.

Most of the lithium-ion batteries in today's EVs use anodes made of graphite, which mainly comes from China with smaller quantities from Canada and Japan.

Because Group14's silicon-carbon anode material enables lithium-ion batteries to hold up to 50% more energy, Luebbe said they can provide the same range as current graphite-based batteries, but with fewer cells, thus reducing the overall cost and size of the battery pack.

Luebbe said Group14 will supply battery materials to Porsche affiliate Cellforce. It also has an existing supply deal with another European battery maker, InoBat. The first EV batteries to use Group14's anode material will go into production in 2023, but Luebbe declined to identify the manufacturer.

Group14's previous investors include a number of companies in the EV battery sector, including ATL, BASF, Showa Denko, Cabot and SK Material. The last firm, a member of Korea's SK Group, has a joint venture with Group14 to make anode materials in that country.

Luebbe said Group14's anode material has been tested by battery makers Storedot and Farasis. The Storedot battery equipped with Group14's silicon-carbon anode material could be charged to 80% capacity in 10 minutes, he said, and has the potential to fast charge in as little as five minutes.

(This story, in second paragraph, corrects location of second factory to eastern Washington state, and in final paragraph corrects silicon-carbide to silicon-carbon)

(Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; editing by Bernard Orr)