BMW To Test Long Range Battery Made By Michigan Based Startup In Its Electric SUV

BMW will test a long-range battery made by Michigan-based startup Our Next Energy in the car manufacturer’s iX electric SUV, the companies announced Tuesday. ONE’s Gemini battery will use two types of battery cells, including one featuring advanced chemistry that can store more energy and enable vehicle range of at least 600 miles between charges, the company said.

The prototype automobile is expected to be finished by the end of the fiscal year, ONE said. The Gemini battery looks to cut down on the use of traditional electric vehicle battery materials like cobalt, nickel, graphite and lithium, ONE founder and CEO Mujeeb Ijaz said. Ijaz said ONE is testing a range of different electrode chemistries in Gemini while also analyzing possible tradeoffs in cost, energy and sustainability.

ONE may offer a production version of the battery in three varying sizes and prices. This would include a low-end version costing the equivalent, or potentially lower, as nickel- and cobalt-based batteries, Ijaz said. A BMW iX Flow with color-shifting material is displayed during CES 2022 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. January 6, 2022.

The battery maker is talking to other companies about similar prototype testing of its Gemini battery. BMW’s corporate venture department in March led a $65 million funding round in the battery company. The round’s other investors included Coatue Management, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Assembly Ventures, Flex and Volta Energy Technologies.

ONE said in December that an early prototype of the Gemini battery modified in a Tesla Model S offered more than 750 miles of range, significantly more than the best production electric vehicles on the market. The logo of German car manufacturer BMW is pictured on a BMW car prior to the earnings press conference in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, March 20, 2019.

After ONE was founded in 2020, the company has centered its attention on a long-range battery that uses safer and more sustainable materials while also putting more energy into a smaller, cheaper package. BMW executive Juergen Hildinger said in a statement that the automaker is looking for opportunities “to integrate ONE’s battery technologies into models of our future BEV (battery electric vehicle) product lineup.”

Source: BMW to test long-range battery made by Michigan-based startup in its electric SUV | Fox Business

Carmakers grapple with conflicting goals in designing electric-car batteries. They want high energy density for long range, but they also want to reduce the costly metals that provide that capacity.

Michigan battery startup Our Next Energy (ONE) claims to have a better way to optimize across all these factors. Now, BMW will fit an early prototype of ONE’s Gemini “Dual-Chemistry” battery into a test version of its iX EV luxury SUV to see if the claims—a heady 600 miles of range, nearly double the stock iX xDrive50’s EPA range estimates—are borne out in a variety of real-world uses. The test iX will be on the road by the end of this year, both companies say.

BMW is the logical vehicle partner to test ONE’s technology, because its investment arm—BMW i Ventures—was one of several backers in a $25 million round of financing for the battery startup last October.

Traction + Long Range

The Dual-Chemistry label on ONE’s Gemini battery refers to the pairing of two different types of battery cells, each with a different purpose.

The “Traction” portion has cells that use a lithium iron-phosphate (LFP) cathode, known to have a lower energy density than chemistries based on cobalt, nickel, manganese, or aluminum. LFP batteries are rare in North America, but common in Chinese EVs. Their use of cheap and easily available iron in the cathode leads battery analysts to suggest LFP cells will surge in popularity as their energy density rises, even though it remains below that of advanced cobalt-nickel cells.

The “Long Range” portion of ONE’s Gemini battery, on the other hand, uses a higher energy-density chemistry based on a proprietary material rich in manganese, with only minimal cobalt and nickel. During the current R&D phase, ONE founder and CEO Mujeeb Ijaz told Car and Driver, the company is still experimenting with blends of the three metals to enhance performance. Unusually, it has only a bare copper current collector—rather than separate anode material—a design known in academic circles as “anode-free.”

The LFP “Traction” cells will provide close to 99 percent of the vehicle’s overall miles, Ijaz said, while the “Long Range” cells kick in for the 1 percent of usage that requires extreme power, reducing stress on and deterioration of the LFP cells.

ONE says it can thus provide a battery with energy density that’s claimed to be double that of those in today’s EVs, while focusing on “safer” and “sustainable” battery chemistries created via a “conflict-free supply chain” that includes appropriately sourced and inexpensive manganese.

Lab Tests, Meet Real World

Hundreds of battery chemistries show at least some promise in lab tests, but far fewer make it into production—or even extended testing. The Gemini-powered BMW iX prototype will hit the road by the end of this year. It will be used as a demonstrator first, to prove the Gemini battery concept can store and deliver energy.

After that, BMW and ONE will work together on further testing. As Ijaz notes, ONE needs to “work with BMW to understand their requirements” for his company to become a long-term supplier. That’s an arduous path, but one every battery startup needs to travel before its products find a market.

The ONE-powered BMW iX will mark a new milestone for the company: Powering an actual vehicle, rather than simply showing bench-test results. The actual cells that will go into this early prototype pack will be fabricated by one or more of four separate supplier partners, both in Asia and North America, that are working with ONE on prototyping and production scale-up of its new cells.

When the iX is shown to run, charge, and cover the promised distances, ONE will have moved a large step away from its press stunt last December. In that effort, which ONE called a proof of concept, it stuffed cells with twice the energy capacity as a standard Tesla Model S into that car’s pack and ran it for more than 750 miles—or twice the usual range.

But those weren’t Gemini cells, whereas the BMW iX coming by the end of the year is expected to use very early and experimental versions of ONE’s new cells. This will count as definite progress, presuming it happens on schedule. Stay tuned.

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European Electric Car Sales Growth Will Slow Before Spurting, While China Lurks

Sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are exploding in Western Europe, but growth will slow over the next couple of years, restrained by the semiconductor shortage, and actions by manufacturers who will seek to push demand for internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles before European Union regulations destroys ICE profitability.

Tesla TSLA +1.6% will retain its lead in BEV sales and profitability and only the best of traditional manufacturers like VW and Mercedes look like posing a serious challenge.

Meanwhile, Chinese carmakers, which tried and failed to penetrate Europe markets with traditional ICE cars, look like being much more of a threat with electric ones.

In Western Europe, BEVs are now linked with big numbers. Recently, sales passed one million in the year, while Germany recently announced there were now 1 million BEVs on its roads. BMW announced in early December it had sold its 1 millionth electric vehicle and plans to reach 2 million by 2025.

Western Europe includes the big markets of Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Spain.

BEV sales more than doubled in 2020 to just under 750,000 and jumped again this year with sales of 1,143,000, according to Schmidt Automotive Research, representing a market share of 10.3%. The pace of growth will slow though with market share rising to 12.0% in 2022, 13e.0% in 2023 and 15.0% in 2024, before jumping 5 points to 20.0% in 2025 and an estimated total of 2,860,000.

Fitch Ratings warns that even though the number of available electric cars and SUVs is increasing and battery technology is improving, range anxiety is still an issue, and a slow expansion of the charging infrastructure could impede a major step-up in EV sales.

In addition, EV profitability does not yet match that of ICE vehicles and (manufacturers) earnings and cash flows will remain burdened by further heavy technology investments over the next several years,” Fitch Ratings said in a report.

“Margin dilution from a higher share of EVs has been manageable for carmakers as government subsidies enticed EV buyers, but a gradual removal of the incentives could weigh on profitability in the medium term, diluting manufacturers’ margins but helping them to avoid (excess CO2) fines (from the EU). We also expect greater competition for European carmakers from new entrants, notably China,” Fitch Ratings said.

According to David Leah, analyst with LMC Automotive, the number of Chinese electric models in Europe has more than doubled over five years and government backing at home has given them a competitive advantage.

“This has allowed Chinese (manufacturers) to develop more competitive battery technology, as well as control large parts of the battery material chain, thus enabling them to achieve greater economies of scale. BEV prices have halved in China during the last 8 years, whilst increasing by 42%-55% in the West,” Leah said.

“As a result, Western (manufacturers) are playing catch up in the mass market BEV space, and the growing threat of new entrants has forced Western companies to reassess their competitiveness as competition intensifies,” Leah said.

Prospects for BEV sales won’t have been helped by news Wednesday one of the biggest selling electric cars in Europe, the Renault Zoe, was awarded zero stars in the Euro NCAP safety ratings, and the Dacia Spring only 1 star. Dacia is Renault’s value brand which uses mainly old technology to cut prices to the bone. Most modern vehicles score 5 stars in these tests.

Investment bank UBS expects strong global BEV sales, with Tesla remaining the undisputed leader.

“In 2021, Tesla has gapped away further from all others in terms of volume growth and margins, and Tesla’s lead should be undisputed in 2022 as battery cell supply could emerge as the next bottleneck for the industry,” UBS analyst Patrick Hummel said in a report.

“We expect global BEV sales to grow by about 60% again in 2022, reaching 7 million or 8% share globally. Only the fastest moving (traditional manufacturers) can avoid further bleeding to Tesla, such as Mercedes-Benz and VW Group. As BEV demand will likely continue to exceed supply, BEV pricing will be very solid and therefore margin parity vs. ICE cars reached over the next 1-2 years,” Hummel said.

And Schmidt Automotive Research said the slowing in BEV market share to 2024 is the result of manufacturers seeing a window to push profitable ICE vehicle sales before EU regulations on CO2 tighten. More regulation in 2027 will have a similar impact before BEV demand wins again, as ICE profit margins disintegrate.

Schmidt Automotive reckons BEV sales will gradually accelerate again and reach a market share of 60.0% by 2030, or 8.4 million vehicles.  VW has said its European BEV sales will hit 70% by 2030 while Ford Europe and Jaguar have set a 100% target.

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Source: European Electric Car Sales Growth Will Slow Before Spurting, While China Lurks


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Why A BMW Painted With ‘The World’s Blackest Black’ Is Unlikely To Hit The Road

Topline: BMW rolled out its first vehicle painted with “vantablack”, known as the world’s blackest black⁠—and although the company claims it would like to see the car on the road, it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

  • The BMW X6 was selected as the first vehicle to receive the inky-black paint job and will debut in September’s Frankfurt Motor Show.
  • Vantablack in its purest form absorbs all light, without reflecting any back.
  • To make sure the X6 didn’t appear completely two-dimensional, the vantablack paint used on it reflects back 1% of light.
  • Although X6 designer Hussein Al Attar said he “absolutely” could see vantablack joining BMW’s lineup of color options for car buyers, the automaker has no immediate plans.
  • According to Ben Jensen, CTO of vantablack developer Surrey Nanosystems, “The limitations of vantablack in respect of direct impact or abrasion would make this an impractical proposition for most people. It would also be incredibly expensive.”

Chief critic: Auto enthusiasts. They question why a car needs to be painted with vantablack, especially since it won’t be for sale anytime soon. And safety studies show that regular black cars are already more dangerous to drive over lighter-colored cars⁠—chances of crashing a black car at dawn and dusk are 47% higher than that of a non-black car.

Key background: Developed by Surrey Nanosystems in 2014, the pigment in vantablack is made from tiny bits of carbon. Originally designed to be used in outer space, vantablack can be applied at temperatures hundreds of degrees below freezing. It has also been used in space cameras to block out light from the sun, letting the devices take clearer photos of distant stars and galaxies.

Surprising fact: The “vanta” in vantablack stands for Vertically Aligned Nano Tube Array.

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I’m a New York-based journalist covering breaking news at Forbes. I hold a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. Previous bylines: Gotham Gazette, Bklyner, Thrillist, Task & Purpose, and xoJane.

Source: Why A BMW Painted With ‘The World’s Blackest Black’ Is Unlikely To Hit The Road

Tesla Just Outsold Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Acura, Infiniti In America, About To Crush BMW, Lexus In Q4 – Jean Baptiste Su


After Tesla’s “historic” quarter – Q3 2018 – where it posted its first profits in 2 years – the American automaker had just 2 profitable quarters in its history, the last one being in 2016 – and outsold Mercedes-Benz (66,542), Audi (59,478), Acura (41,830) and Infiniti (33,079) in America with close to 70,000 vehicles sold, our current sales estimate indicates that Tesla is on track to surpass Lexus (78,622) and BMW (71,679) in the final quarter of this year……..

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