Six months ago, a battery startup called Our Next Energy ripped the batteries out of a Tesla Model S and replaced them with a battery of its own design. Engineers then took the Tesla, aimed it at the far side of Michigan (in the freezing cold of January, mind you) and drove for 752 miles before they needed to stop for a charge. That’s huge — the longest-range Model S available today is rated at just 405 miles. Now, the company wants to once again nearly double the range of an electric vehicle — this time, a brand-new BMW iX that ONE says will be able to do 600 miles on a single charge.
Last year, BMW invested in ONE as part of a Series A funding round. That backing makes it likely that ONE’s technology will someday show up in a BMW product, and now the partnership seems close to bearing fruit. This upcoming prototype, an iX EV retrofitted with a ONE Gemini battery, could be the first step towards the automaker fully adopting the battery startup’s tech.
That tech is ONE’s Gemini battery, something the company refers to as a “range-extended dual-chemistry battery.” ONE explains that the battery uses two separate chemical formulas, both based on lithium-ion battery chemistry but each optimized for a different use-case, to store more power per cubic inch than other battery tech.
At the same time, ONE says the Gemini battery uses less lithium, graphite, nickel, and cobalt. This claim, however, doesn’t say what it’s less than — a traditional single-chemistry lithium ion battery from the same car (say, the stock battery from an iX) or a battery capable of the same theoretical maximum range.
That 600-mile range is, of course, still theoretical — until the end of this year, when the prototype BMW is expected to be finished. The company claims that the mileage figure is the result of computer simulations specific to the iX, but that testing hasn’t yet begun with Gemini tech in the chassis itself.
ONE’s Model S prototype proved that the company certainly has something up its sleeve with this battery tech. If the iX prototype can make that tech work reliably, at scale, and for cheap, we could see it powering a lot more BMWs in the future.