Customcells has raised 60 million euros in a Series A financing round. The German battery cell manufacturer intends to use the money to expand its activities in the electrification of air traffic, intensify research and development and drive forward internationalisation.
Customcells has been manufacturing cells for special applications for ten years – with a strong focus on research and development, innovation and processes. In the next – capital-intensive – step, the company now wants to “penetrate the market from the special applications” and “penetrate the portfolio from the top with genuine high-performance cells”, as Dirk Abendroth, CEO of the Customcells Group since May 2022, recently put it in an interview.
As backers, several new investors will support this course in the future. The Series A financing round was led by the climate-tech venture capitalist World Fund and the Hamburg-based family office Abacon Capital. Existing investors Porsche and Vsquared Ventures also participated. Seed investor 468 Capital remains on board, as does Primepulse, the company says. And: “Customcells founders Leopold König and Torge Thönnessen will remain the company’s largest shareholders after the funding.”
“Our goal is to create and shape a new premium segment in the international market for battery cells,” expresses Dirk Abendroth on the occasion of the completed financing round. “This includes a next generation of battery cells that are tailor-made to meet the needs of our customers. Customcells is to become a global player – an independent, large premium brand in the global battery cell business.”
Among other things, Customcells intends to use the investor money to accelerate its position in the electrified aviation sector. The manufacturer says it is striving to create competitive advantages through a ‘First2Market’ approach. “This includes significantly more powerful battery cells compared to the competition and certifications by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)”.
According to the company, it intends to further push its technological lead with the help of significantly increased research and development activities. Specifically, a total of 50 patents are to be filed in 2022 alone.
Customcell’s interest in the aviation battery market has been apparent for some time. For example, it is working with the engineering company Manz to build up production capacities for lithium-ion battery cells for customers in the aviation sector. There is also an order from the German electric aerial taxi start-up Lilium. According to Abendroth, this is a market that promises much smaller unit numbers but significantly higher margins than the automotive sector.
Abendroth also recently told the German publication Automobilwoche that Customcells is currently looking for locations for two more factories in Germany – one for the automotive sector and one for the aviation sector with electric taxis, electric drones and electric aeroplanes. The two factories are intended to significantly expand the company’s production capacities, which are currently limited to the Itzehoe and Tübingen sites. At the Itzehoe site, Customcells is currently primarily developing prototypes of application-specific battery cells. The actual series production will then take place at the Tübingen site. According to the company, “one of the most modern cell production lines in Europe” will go into operation there in spring 2021.
In addition, a battery production plant is already under construction in Reutlingen-Nord/Kirchentellinsfurt under the direction of the battery joint venture Cellforce Group with Porsche. The foundation stone for the latter plant was laid in October. At the same time, Cellforce announced plans to increase production capacity there tenfold to over 1 GWh.
techcrunch.com, presseportal.de (in German, Abendroth interview)