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Business & Finance Print 2023-09-20

Detroit’s ONE is gearing up to potentially change EV battery landscape

Published September 20, 2023
A prototype EV displayed at the Canadian companies’ stall at The Battery Show held in Detroit on September 12. Photo: Bilal Hussain
A prototype EV displayed at the Canadian companies’ stall at The Battery Show held in Detroit on September 12. Photo: Bilal Hussain

DETROIT, MICHIGAN: Pakistani-origin American Mujeeb Ijaz, the CEO and founder of Michigan-based Our Next Energy (ONE), is solving a major problem in the electric vehicle ecosystem.

He has come up with a mix of chemistry and consumer behavior to make a battery that may power major electric cars and other vehicles in the near future.

“We have overcome a problem, which was range … it (battery) has durability, the ability to scale, the abundance (of raw material iron phosphate) and brought cost down,” said Ijaz while briefing journalists at the Battery Show in Detroit, Michigan, also known as Motor City where he showed his iron-based battery system.

Ijaz’s meeting with international journalists at the Battery Show was part of the international reporting tour organised by the US Department of State’s Foreign Press Centre.

Ijaz is a battery systems engineer with over 30 years of experience in the development of electric vehicles and battery systems technologies. His career has focused on advancing the adoption of electric vehicles through innovation in battery safety, range, and cost. Mujeeb holds 50 patents in the field of battery technology and energy management systems.

The Battery Show in Detroit brought together engineers, business leaders, top industry companies, and innovative thinkers to discover ground-breaking products and create powerful solutions for the future. Attendees had the chance to discover the latest products, technology and solutions from over 800 suppliers.

Ijaz said his batteries are being used in delivery markets (vehicles that are delivering packages), and next year his company will be selling them to the utility grid and solar storage while the third market is automotive. The company is in trial stages for automotive commercialisation.

Ijaz declined to give details which car companies and OEMs his company is engaged with and just said ‘many’.

Meanwhile, according to an article that appeared in August 2023 in motortrend.com, a renowned American automotive magazine, ONE expects the first 106-kWh, 350-mile-range Aries II LFP (Lithium-Iron, Phosphate) packs to enter the automotive service around 2025, and the first 185-kWh, 600-mile-range Gemini packs to hit the road in 2026, very possibly on a BMW. The article added that ONE demonstrated its battery concept in the 752-mile Tesla lap of lower Michigan earlier this year.

Ijaz said his company is currently making 50,000 batteries annually and will start making cells for them next year.

“About 38% of the total vehicles produced were electric at one point. Our view is that we can go back to that. We did not overcome range and cost in the early production of electric vehicles,” said Ijaz while responding to Business Recorder.

“We are working on an iron phosphate battery and it drives the cost down. And then we are working on solutions that drive the range up. By bringing costs down through usage of abundant vehicles and increasing range by between 500 and 1,000 kilometers, customer acceptance could be enhanced.

“I don’t want to make predictions but 50% of EV market share by 2050 is achievable globally.”

Meanwhile, he said the world is starting to accept EVs but the low-range barrier does not meet the real world demand at the moment.

The range is reduced by at least half when a vehicle tows another car, drives in cold temperature, or is driven at speed. The fourth factor that impacts range is that the US market has a demand for large vehicles.

And Ijaz says his company has a solution for that.

“We have demonstrated 600 miles of range on an SUV in the US. So I think there are technologies that will solve the range issue.

He further said that the cost differential between an EV and fossil-fuel vehicle is still wide.

“The cost differential between an EV and a gasoline vehicle is still pretty wide. The consumer wants that cost differential to decline. And the mass market is one way to reduce it.”

He said that as long as EVs use iron instead of cobalt in batteries, the cost differential will decline with economies of scale.

“Our differentiation is that we have found a way to increase the battery range to this level without nickel-cobalt.”

The life of the battery is around 500,000 miles or an estimated 15 years, and it takes two hours to charge completely.

While responding to a query whether he would want to come to Pakistan to start manufacturing there, Ijaz said the company does want to be a global supplier and not just limited to North America.

But there are many things to consider before choosing a market, he said.

“We see these markets (such as Pakistan) as very fascinating to get engaged in and there are intentions to do that but it also has to be the right time. We have to have the right conditions to flourish as a business and then there is a need to develop a local supply chain,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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