Electric vehicle battery startup ONE backed by BMW, Gates-led firm

The logo of German car manufacturer BMW is seen on the company headquarters in Munich
The logo of German car manufacturer BMW is seen on the company headquarters in Munich, Germany, December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

Oct 18 (Reuters) - Michigan-based Our Next Energy, which is developing an advanced battery for electric vehicles, has raised $25 million from investors ranging from German automaker BMW (BMWG.DE) to a clean technology venture firm headed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the young company said on Monday.

Investors in ONE’s Series A round include BMW iVentures, Detroit-based Assembly Ventures and Chicago-based Volta Energy Technologies, which is partnered with Argonne National Laboratories. Another investor is Singapore-based electronics manufacturer Flex Ltd (FLEX.O), which is also a strategic partner with ONE.

The round was led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the investment arm of Breakthrough Energy, founded by Gates in 2015 to support and fund innovations to counter climate change. Among the Kirkland, Washington company’s investments: Battery recycler Redwood Materials, electric aircraft maker ZeroAvia and solid-state battery developer QuantumScape (QS.N).

ONE, a year-old startup that only recently emerged from stealth mode, is working on a dual battery that combines a structural cell-to-pack design that uses cobalt- and nickel-free cathodes, with a second, high-energy pack that can recharge the first, potentially doubling vehicle range to 750 miles. read more

ONE founder and chief executive Mujeeb Ijaz, a battery systems engineer with more than 30 years' experience at Ford Motor Co (F.N), Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and A123 Systems, said of the financial backers, “We wanted to surround ourselves with people who are in this for the long term. They can help our company grow, and they are also magnets for other technology.”

The new investment will help fund research and development, ranging from battery software and power electronics to artificial intelligence and machine learning, Ijaz said.

“We plan to go from raw materials all the way to (battery) cell manufacturing,” he said, adding that ONE may seek additional funding and partners next year to help the company scale up manufacturing.

Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit; Editing by David Gregorio

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