Tesla Model S covers a record 750-mile range on freezing Michigan highways with a new ONE battery
In order to prove the viability of their new range of prototype batteries, a Michigan-based startup called Our Next Energy (ONE) managed to retrofit a Tesla Model S for an over 880-mile range test in the lab. After taking the Model S with the new battery for a spin in the freezing Michigan temps, that range fell to the still jaw-dropping 752 miles (1210 km) on a charge. ONE uses an innovative packing method and chemistry for its batteries, and managed to stuff 207.3 kWh in the size of the regular Model S' 103.9 kilowatt-hours battery. The Michigan highways trip took 14 hours to exhaust the batteries in the cold mid-December weather at an average speed of 55 miles per hour. The lab run on a dynamometer at the same speed resulted in the whopping 882 miles (1419 km) on a charge, but in a controlled indoor temperature setting.
In any case, this world-record Tesla Model S range test was made possible by ONE's proof-of-concept pack that still uses cells with materials like nickel and cobalt that allow for a very high energy density. Our Next Energy, however, prides itself upon the development of a sustainable battery of the lithium iron-phosphate (LFP) variety that Tesla intends to switch to for all of its standard-range vehicles in the U.S. That pack, dubbed Aries, will be ready for mass production as soon as this year. ONE intends to nullify the LFP battery density disadvantages compared to nickel/cobalt chemistries by packing its cells as a unibody without separate modules. Elon Musk is on record saying that the lower density of the more affordable and sustainably sourced LFP batteries is misleading as they can be charged to a higher percentage without deterioration issues.
With its next battery kit, called Gemini, ONE intends to have the best of both worlds by providing a battery with 99% "conflict-free" and sustainable LFP prism cells, aided by 1% of "range extender" ones. The latter would have a graphite-free anode and a manganese-rich cathode, as manganese is cheap, ubiquitous, and can be sourced sustainably. That high-energy portion of the Gemini battery would kick in only in dire situations to make the LFP section, or the bulk of the batter, keep its charging capacity longer. Those high-density cells for the Gemini pack are still under development, as the double-duty battery is not expected to hit the market before 2023. In the meantime, you can feast your eyes on what ONE's high-density cells are capable of along the frozen Michigan highways when packed in the place of a Tesla Model S battery.