Our Next Energy: Almost 1000 kilometers without a charging stop: BMW iX fights against range anxiety with a new battery

Battery exchange stations, fast chargers and charging stations at every supermarket are already bringing electric cars a lot forward - but real range would be even better.

Our Next Energy: Almost 1000 kilometers without a charging stop: BMW iX fights against range anxiety with a new battery

Battery exchange stations, fast chargers and charging stations at every supermarket are already bringing electric cars a lot forward - but real range would be even better. Electric cars have always suffered from the reputation of not being able to cover significant distances, especially in cold weather. Of course, there is a lot of ignorance and a lack of experience in this assumption, but as long as electric vehicles cannot reliably travel long distances on a single charge or charging takes as long as a refueling stop, the critics will not be silent.

BMW and the start-up Our Next Energy have now come a lot closer to this magical limit. Because with a converted BMW iX we managed to drive exactly 978.6 kilometers in a test according to the WLTP standard - at least on the test bench. In reality, depending on the weather, you probably have to subtract around a third. But then there would still be over 600 kilometers of road, which not every electric car can manage.

The young company has achieved this with a new type of battery called Gemini. This is a type of hybrid battery that consists of two different types of cells. One part is made up of lithium iron phosphate cells (LFP) and supplies the motor with energy. In the current battery format, these cells enable a journey of 240 kilometers, which, according to the young company, is sufficient for 99 percent of everyday driving needs.

The other part of the battery consists of anode-free cells that have a high energy density. They act as range extenders that charge the LFP cells while driving. This can increase the range by around 724 kilometers. The entire Gemini battery is created with a focus on fitting into the 300 to 400 liter space typically reserved for an electric car battery, despite its power.

Our Next Energy particularly highlights the greater range and lower need for raw materials. The battery therefore requires 20 percent less lithium and 60 percent less graphite, while the use of nickel and cobalt is also reduced. This should lead to lower costs and less environmental impact.

There are currently still limitations to anode-free technology. It has a shorter lifespan than LFP or conventional lithium batteries and delivers less power to the electric motor. Therefore, the LFP part is mainly used, while the anode-free part of the Gemini battery only serves as a range extender when required.

Our Next Energy attracted attention last year with a converted Tesla Model S. The company actually drove this car for 1,200 kilometers in cool weather without stopping to charge. But an interview by "Autoline Network" with the boss Mujeeb Ijaz quickly made it clear that the technology at that time could not go beyond a demonstration under controlled conditions.

The battery at the time used expensive nickel-manganese-cobalt cells (NMC) without cooling, which limited the test drive to 90 km/h. In everyday life, such a battery would be life-threatening, as the risk of fire increases significantly without cooling. With the battery in the BMW iX, big steps have obviously been taken in this area. An information graphic from the manufacturer shows that the cobalt content has fallen by 100 percent and the nickel content by 75 percent. They are now relying on “manganese-containing cathodes without cobalt,” they say.

After the successful presentation of the battery, Our Next Energy plans to further optimize it and prepare for market launch. There is talk of a start next year.

Sources: ONE, Autoline Network

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