ONE aims to outcompete Catl on LFP range
The US battery manufacturer’s CEO says any future for a domestic EV battery supply chain relies on a decisive move away from nickel and cobalt
Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry batteries are cheaper to make and pose less risk of thermal runaway compared to the nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) alternatives more widely used in the EV industry up to now. But LFP batteries, as adopted by OEMs such as the US’ Tesla and China’s BYD, provide weaker energy density, meaning restricted range and power.
Mujeeb Ijaz, CEO of Michigan battery manufacturer Our Next Energy (ONE), is under no illusions that these limitations must be overcome. “Our first step is offering a solution with LFP as a fundamental cathode choice that gets to [energy density] parity with today's nickel-cobalt batteries,” he says.
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The firm publicly leading the race on getting to close-to-parity LFP performance is Chinese battery firm Catl, which announced its new Shenxing battery last month. This LFP offering boasts of a 400km range on a ten-minute charge and an overall range of 700km.
But ONE aims to take it a step further. “We decided to go ahead and fundamentally address the topic of creating parity of range, and then accelerating an improvement in range, based on iron as a core cathodic material. And that differentiates our company,” Ijaz told the IAA Mobility conference in Munich this week.
“By 2026, we can introduce Gemini as a fundamental breakthrough in battery technology reaching a thousand kilometres,” he promises.
These is a big call from a firm located in a country that has been significantly behind in battery development compared to East Asian heavyweights. Data compiled by the IEA suggests that, in 2022, 95pc of LFP batteries for light duty EVs were produced in China while the US represented just 3pc. Even Tesla, which now uses LFP batteries in most of its standard range EVs, relies on 85pc Chinese-manufactured products.
But Ijaz is undeterred. Iron is “the fourth most abundant element in the earth's crust, way beyond manganese, nickel and cobalt”, he says, and it can be sourced directly in the US.
And other firms are also on board the US LFP train. Last moth, Israeli firm ICL broke ground on an LFP cathode factory in Missouri, expected to be the first large-scale LFP facility in the US and due to begin production in 2025, having received a $197mn grant from the US Department of Energy towards its $400mn price tag. Additionally, Utah-based firm the American Battery Factory in December selected Tucson, AZ as the site for a first LFP gigafactory at an estimated cost of $1.2bn and with an expected start date of 2026.