Michigan-based EV battery startup ONE, Our Next Energy, initially hailed as a beacon of President Biden’s initiative to reduce dependence on China for batteries, is undergoing significant changes. The company, founded by battery engineering genius Mujeeb Ijaz, is restructuring after facing challenges such as layoffs and a funding setback. This article explores the recent developments and the strategic shift within ONE, including a change in leadership and the company’s future plans.
Background: ONE and Biden’s Agenda
ONE, headquartered in Novi, Michigan, is among the US companies focusing on manufacturing Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery cells. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act has spurred companies like ONE to develop a domestic battery supply chain, aiming to create clean tech jobs and reduce reliance on China.
Challenges Faced by ONE: Layoffs and Funding Loss
Despite being one of the most valuable privately held companies in the US, ONE faced challenges due to an industry slowdown and a loss of funding. The company announced a 25% reduction in its workforce and a change in leadership.
Leadership Change: Mujeeb Ijaz Steps Down
Mujeeb Ijaz, renowned for his contributions to battery engineering, stepped down as CEO and founder.
Paul Humphries, a seasoned executive with over 40 years of experience, has taken over as CEO. His background includes working with Flex Ltd., and he brings valuable manufacturing and operations expertise.
Ijaz’s New Role and Experience
Ijaz, now the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and vice-chairman of the board, will lead product engineering. He previously worked on Apple’s electric car project and was associated with A123 Systems, a company funded by the Obama administration.
Business Plan Revision and Series C Funding Setback
ONE revised its business plan, cutting 128 employees, citing “lower EV demands” and market conditions.
The decision was influenced by London’s Just Climate, an investment fund, choosing not to lead ONE’s Series C funding round with a $100 million investment.
Future Plans: Battery Production and New Factory
- ONE aims to produce battery cells at a new $1.6 billion factory in Van Buren Township, Michigan.
- The company is currently delivering prototype LFP battery packs for testing to various companies.
Strategic Leadership Change for Success
Humphries’ appointment is seen as a strategic move to address challenges, curb overspending, and align the company with its revised business plan.
Ijaz acknowledges the need to learn about running a billion-dollar company and emphasizes the importance of seizing the opportunity.
ONE, Our Next Energy, faces challenges but is strategically navigating a path to success with a leadership change, revised business plan, and a focus on domestic battery production. The restructuring reflects the company’s commitment to achieving its goals amid a dynamic and competitive industry landscape.