US: start-up claims it can vastly improve auto batteries image

One of the main concerns with electric cars are the batteries – they’re heavy, expensive and don’t provide the same range as a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle.

Even Tesla – the California-based automaker that claimed several records for range with its electric cars and offers its luxury Model S sedan with an 85 kWh battery pack could use an improvement. Now, an Ann Arbor-based start-up claims it has enhanced the lithium-ion battery technology to make the batteries of the Model S twice as efficient. Named Sakti3, the company is a spin-off from the University of Michigan that has so far gathered $30 million in venture capital – including from investors such as General Motors or Khosla Ventures. The company also claims its proprietary new battery cell can “more than double the usage time in a wearable device like a smartwatch,” signaling broad applications from the tech to the automotive industries.

“We don’t believe there’s anything outlandish about these projections at all,” says Sakti3 CEO Ann Marie Sastry.

When talking about our automotive example, the Model S, the company claims it can beef up the model’s range from 256 to 480 miles. Sakti3 aims to partner with a yet to be named manufacturer to bring the new technology to market commercialization within two years, first targeting the wearable electronics sector and then moving to automakers.