Battery startup Our Next Energy (ONE) and BMW today said the carmaker’s prototype of its flagship EV, iX, will run on ONE’s unique Gemini dual-chemistry battery pack by the end of the year.
BMW’s iX was introduced late last year with a maximum range of 324 miles, based on estimates from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. With the prototype, ONE is hoping to nearly double that to 600 miles.
That’s an enormous leap above the iX’s range today, which sits just above what many automakers say is the 300-mile sweet spot for EV adoption. Such an increase may seem unnecessarily decadent — after all, how many road-trippers travel 600 miles, or eight hours at highway speeds, without taking a break? But for ONE founder and CEO Mujeeb Ijaz, it’s all about meeting drivers’ range expectations even in the most extreme conditions.
While EVs have made great strides in the last decade in meeting customer expectations, Ijaz feels they’re not nearly where they need to be once you factor in things like cold weather, trailer towing or driving at highway speeds. Towing with Ford’s new F-150 Lightning, for example, cuts range by about half, while many (though not all) EVs will travel about 10% to 20% less than their stated range when driven at a consistent 75 mph.
“I’m thoroughly convinced that to solve the market adoption, we’re going to need to double the amount of energy on board to deal with and overcome all the real-world conditions that are going to be thrown at EVs,” Ijaz said. “I’ve seen in 30 years how range has affected the ability for products to really get into the ethos of serving customers at all levels to where adoption can be robust.”
The market’s shift toward SUVs and pickup trucks has only further cemented his conviction that the ideal EV range as measured by EPA methodology is 600 to 700 miles.
“Battery-powered platforms that are in the truck market, like the one that I’m sitting in,” Ijaz said while parked in his new Rivian R1T, “could have at least a 40% delta between the advertised range and the range that you experience. And so we decided to resolve that problem by setting a new target.”
To hit that target, ONE has developed a new type of battery pack that employs two different chemistries. As I revealed in an exclusive look at ONE’s patent filings, the key to the dual-chemistry pack is a sophisticated set of electronics and software that allow the different cell types to focus on what they do best.