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BMW i Ventures Invests in Michigan-based EV Battery Startup ‘Our Next Energy Inc.'

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【Summary】​BMW i Ventures, the Silicon Valley-based venture capital arm of automaker BMW, announced an investment in Michigan-based battery startup Our Next Energy Inc. (“ONE”). The company is working to develop lower cost and longer range batteries for electric vehicles. The investment from BMW i Ventures was part of a $25 million Series A capital raise led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a venture capital firm founded by Bill Gates.

Eric Walz    Oct 18, 2021 8:30 AM PT
BMW i Ventures Invests in Michigan-based EV Battery Startup ‘Our Next Energy Inc.'

BMW i Ventures, the Silicon Valley-based venture capital arm of automaker BMW, announced an investment in Michigan-based battery startup Our Next Energy Inc. ("ONE"). The company is working to develop lower cost and longer range batteries for electric vehicles.

The investment from BMW i Ventures was part of a $25 million Series A capital raise led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which was founded by Bill Gates in 2015. Also participating in the round was Assembly Ventures, Flex Ltd and Volta Energy Technologies.

ONE has developed two proprietary technologies for EV batteries it dubbed "Aries" and "Gemini." The 79 kWh Aries battery uses Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry in a structural cell-to-pack architecture. The result is a very high cell to pack ratio of 76%, which offers an energy density of 287 Wh/L, at the system level. 

For comparison, the Tesla Model 3 using LFP battery chemistry has a cell to pack ratio of 49% with an energy density of 173 Wh/L. 

The higher energy density translates into longer range, while the LFP battery chemistry reduces costs by eliminating the use of more expensive nickel and cobalt. LFP battery technology is also safer with excellent thermal stability to eliminate the risk of fires, which led to the recent recall of the Chevy Bolt EV by General Motors.

The second battery pack developed by ONE is dubbed "Gemini." It includes a proprietary energy management system and chemistry in a dual battery architecture, according to ONE. It pairs two batteries together and uses AI technology to seamlessly distribute power between each battery, which helps maximize each battery's range.

The GEMINI design yields 450 Wh/L at the cell level, according to ONE. The company says the Gemini architecture will allow conventional trucks and SUVs to travel up to 700 miles on a single charge.

"Our Next Energy is working to fundamentally reinvent the battery while focusing on sustainability, safety and cost; three key factors which will help speed the development and adoption of battery electric vehicles," said Baris Guzel, partner at BMW i Ventures. "We are convinced that Our Next Energy has the potential to truly transform the space, and we could not be more excited to join their journey."

ONE, which is based in Novi, Michigan, was founded in July 2020 by CEO Mujeeb Ijaz, a battery systems engineer with over 30 years of experience in the development of electric vehicles and battery systems technologies. Ijaz led teams at Ford Motor Co., where he developed Ford's Edge SUV with HySeries Drive, which combines a fuel cell with lithium ion batteries. The vehicle was unveiled in 2007 and at the time was the world's first drivable, fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle with plug-in capability. 

More recently, Ijaz worked as a senior director at Apple, where he developed energy storage solutions for its secretive "Apple Car" project.

"BMW i Ventures has a proven track record of successful collaboration with startups with leading technologies to shape future mobility," said Ijaz. "We are excited to collaborate with Baris and his team as we work to demonstrate our core technologies."

ONE said it will use the investment to scale production of its first battery products.

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