Piston Group to manufacture EV batteries for startup Our Next Energy

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Auto supplier Piston Group said it will manufacture batteries for electric vehicles for energy storage technology startup Our Next Energy Inc., or ONE.

Piston Group said it plans to produce ONE’s Aries battery packs, which utilize lithium iron phosphate chemistry to “increase range and reduce cost while eliminating nickel and cobalt supply chain and safety concerns.”

Piston Automotive, a subsidiary of Piston Group, will build the batteries at a factory in Van Buren Township, Mich., about 25 miles west of downtown Detroit. Production is expected to begin late this year.

“Our commitment to growth and product expansion over the past decade with other EV industry leading partners has been a key foundation to our success,” Piston Automotive President Bob Holloway said in a statement. “Piston Automotive’s expertise in battery assembly process design, testing and service, combined with ONE’s innovative battery pack design, is an exciting opportunity and a great fit for our long-term strategy.”

The deal is a milestone for ONE, founded by industry veteran and 2021 Automotive News All-Star Mujeeb Ijaz in suburban Detroit in 2020. The Aries will be the first of its products mass-produced for the EV market.

According to ONE, the Aries battery has 79 kilowatt-hours of energy, with peak power of 120 kilowatts. The companies did not disclose the customers for the batteries.

ONE in October received $25 million in funding from groups including BMW i Ventures, the German automaker’s venture capital arm, Detroit-based VC fund Assembly Ventures and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a Bill Gates-backed fund focused on climate-related businesses.

The deal also gives Piston Group’s battery pack manufacturing business a boost as it looks to further expand its presence in the growing EV battery space. The supplier plans for high-voltage battery manufacturing capacity of about 100,000 units per year, according to its website.

“The Piston Group has a proven track record as a high-quality manufacturing partner for battery packs,” ONE’s Ijaz said in a statement. “Their experience makes them an ideal partner to assemble our Aries pack.”

The start of Aries production later this year will come before ONE plans to demonstrate a production prototype of its Gemini battery in 2023. In December, the company retrofitted a Tesla Model S with a prototype of the Gemini battery, saying it was able to travel 752 miles without needing a recharge.

Piston Group ranks No. 64 on the Automotive News list of the top 100 global suppliers, with $2.85 billion in worldwide parts sales to automakers in 2020. The company was founded in 1995 by former Detroit Pistons basketball star Vinnie Johnson.

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