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BMW-backed Energy Storage Startup ONE Raises $65 Million, Plans to Build an EV Battery Factory in the U.S.

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【Summary】Our Next Energy (“ONE”), an energy storage startup based in Novi, Michigan, announced a new $65 million funding round, its second major funding in the past five months. In order to demonstrate the company’s advanced EV battery technology, ONE recently installed its prototype battery in a Tesla Model S and was able to travel 752 miles on a single charge.

Eric Walz    Mar 01, 2022 12:30 PM PT
BMW-backed Energy Storage Startup ONE Raises $65 Million, Plans to Build an EV Battery Factory in the U.S.

Our Next Energy ("ONE"), an energy storage startup based in Novi, Michigan, announced a new $65 million funding round, its second major funding in the past five months totaling $80 million. 

The company's latest funding round was led by BMW iVentures, which is the venture capital arm of the automaker. It follows a $25M Series A round led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures in Oct 2021, a VC firm founded by Bill Gates in 2015.

Also joining the latest $65 million funding round was a New York-based investment firm Coatue Management and ONE's Series A investors, including Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Assembly Ventures, Flex and Volta Energy Technologies.

ONE says the new funding will allow it to expand its operations and prepare for increasing demand. ONE's plans also include building a factory in the U.S. to manufacture its advanced batteries.

ONE is a developer of innovative energy storage technology. The company was founded in 2020 by Mujeeb Ijaz, a battery systems engineer with more than 30 years of experience. Ijaz also worked as a senior director at Apple, where he developed various energy storage solutions for the secretive "Apple Car" project before founding ONE.

The R&D team at ONE is focused on developing safer battery chemistries with higher energy density than traditional lithium ion batteries.The long-range batteries are also built using sustainable raw materials. ONE also aims to create a reliable, low cost supply chain. 

"We believe ONE is creating transformative battery cell and pack technologies," said Jaimin Rangwalla of Coatue Management. "We look forward to the future ahead of ONE and are excited to partner with Mujeeb and his outstanding team."

In order to demonstrate the company's advanced energy storage technology, ONE swapped out the original battery in a Tesla Model S with a prototype of its own design. Equipped with ONE's battery technology, The Model S was able to travel 752 miles across Michigan on a single charge. The trip was made in December and was recently documented in a YouTube video. 

ONE said it has signed contracts with four customers totaling more than 25 GWh of energy storage capacity over the next five years, which is equal to approximately 300,000 electric vehicle battery packs. 

"ONE's core principles of doubling the range, decreasing the cost of the batteries and creating a local supply chain, resonated strongly with us at BMW i Ventures," said Baris Guzel, partner at BMW i Ventures. "Today's announcement of ONE's battery factory in the US is an important step for the larger electric vehicle value chain, and ONE has the potential to truly transform the ecosystem."

ONE will begin production of its first battery called the "Aries" in late 2022. 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 battery using LFP battery chemistry has a cell to pack ratio of 49% with an energy density of 173 Wh/L. 

The Areis also features an integrated battery management system with triple redundancy for current measurement and overcharge protection.

The higher energy density of the 348-volt Aries battery 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 last year's recall of the Chevy Bolt EV by General Motors.

ONE's 203.7 KWh prototype Gemini battery includes a proprietary energy management system packaged in a dual battery architecture that pairs two battery packs together. It also employs AI technology to seamlessly distribute power between each battery, which helps to maximize each battery's range, according to ONE.

The GEMINI architecture yields an energy density of 450 Wh/L at the cell level, according to ONE. The unique architecture will allow electric vehicles such as large trucks and SUVs to travel roughly 700+ miles on a single charge.

On Feb 1, ONE announced it hired Dr. Steven Kaye as Chief Technology Officer to lead the development of a new R&D facility in the San Francisco Bay Area. Dr. Kaye holds over 60 patents covering a variety of battery-related innovations including cathode, anode, electrolyte, cell architecture, and pack designs. 

Dr. Kaye will scale ONE's cell research efforts, with a focus on bringing to market high energy chemistries. He will also work with cell manufactures to scale production and accelerate time to market.

In 2023, ONE says it will demonstrate a production prototype of its long-range Gemini battery. 

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