Mujeeb Ijaz, a veteran of Apple’s secretive electric car program, Ford’s first plug-in hybrid experiment and A123 Systems’ gallant attempt to beat Tesla a decade ago, is on to a new gig with a similar level of ambition: to build a novel, inexpensive electric vehicle battery that will last decades, go 750 miles or so on a charge and be independent of the Chinese supply chain.
And he makes a compelling case for why he can.
Ijaz is CEO of Our Next Energy, a Michigan-based startup launched in 2020. By this time next year, he intends to begin commercial production of his first product, a lithium-iron-phosphate battery that he says will have greater energy density than most current EV batteries. Not long after that will come his blockbuster—the battery described in the first paragraph. Its secret sauce will be the use of dual cathodes, somewhat analogous to giving a person two nervous systems. The battery will use the inexpensive LFP cathode and a second, manganese-based cathode to extend the range of the EV in which it’s installed. That is, if you are driving from Chicago to Nashville, Tenn., a distance of 475 miles, the LFP-based battery will take you about as far as Lebanon, Ind., about 156 miles. From there, the manganese-based battery will kick in and carry you the rest of the way. “We will capture the market,” Ijaz told me.