Battery startup ONE – once a high-flying unicorn – is cutting staff, again

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Michigan-based EV battery startup ONE, Our Next Energy – considered one of the most valuable privately held companies in the US and Biden’s darling for homegrown batteries – is once again cutting its workforce after months of problems.

Crain’s Detroit Business reports that the company has cut another 37 jobs, with 24 located in Michigan. The majority of those jobs are administrative roles, the company stated.

ONE is among the many players in the race to develop an LFP battery pack on North American soil. Last year, the company was riding high after procuring some $300 million in funding for a $1 billion valuation, with plans to build a $1.6 billion gigafactory in Michigan to make its batteries there.

Last November, the company, headquartered in Novi, a suburb of Detroit, cut 128 salaried and hourly workers as part of a “revised business plan,” according to a statement emailed to various sources. After yesterday’s layoffs, ONE currently has a staff of 240 employees in Michigan, with closer to 270 employees nationally, reports The Detroit News.

After the layoffs at the end of last year, the company also replaced its CEO and founder Mujeeb Ijaz, known for his dazzling genius in the field of battery engineering but erratic management style, with Paul Humphries, a seasoned executive and board member who came out of retirement for the job.

Still, the cuts are happening amid layoffs among other suppliers and manufacturers like Rivian. The argument is that consumer demand for EVs has ebbed, with infrastructure and charging speed stalling adoption, and the billions of dollars that once flowed into EVs have been cut or delayed, leaving a company like ONE vulnerable as investment dollars dry up.

The company also stated that it is focusing on developing products “that will double the range for electric vehicles and double the energy capacity of conventional utility-scale energy storage systems.”  

“In support of this mission, ONE is reinforcing its commitment to its research & development, engineering, supply chain, and manufacturing functions…. To accomplish this, the company is re-aligning resources and reducing overall operating expenses in its non-product-related functions. This decision will enable ONE to operate in a more financially efficient manner and support the company’s ongoing efforts to attract additional strategic and financial investors.”

The company told Electrek last December that it has been delivering production LFP battery packs made with purchased cells to customers since early 2023. The company currently produces the packs on a dedicated line at a facility with its contract manufacturer, Piston Automotive.

Still, ONE says the new cuts won’t impact battery cell production happening now. Meanwhile, work is still happening on its new plant in Michigan, backed by $200 million in state incentives. ONE expects to employ more than 2,000 people and produce the equivalent of 200,000 EV battery packs a year at full capacity, which is targeted for as early as the end of 2027.

Photo: Courtesy of Our Next Energy


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