Mumbai-based energy storage startup ION Energy has acquired French battery management company Freemens SAS, as part of a cash-and-equity deal. Post the acquisition, the entire Freemens engineering and sales team will be joining the core team of ION.
With this, Freemens SAS founder and CEO Alexandre Collet joined ION as co-founder and VP of Engineering to strengthen the startup’s founding team.
Commenting on the development, ION Energy co-founder and CEO Akhil Aryan said, “Our acquisition of Freemens is reflective of ION’s growth and vision. In an increasingly crowded market, Freemens’ unparalleled Battery Management know-how has helped ION leap forward in sync with our mission to build reliable, high performance and no-compromise energy storage systems. I’m incredibly excited to welcome Alex and Freemens onboard our journey.”
The acquisition, according to Aryan, is in line with the energy storage company’s aim to expand its portfolio of customers across India, the US and other parts of EU.
Speaking of the newly-forged alliance, Collet stated, “It is clear that batteries will be core to the transition away from fossil fuels. When I heard about ION and Akhil’s plan to build No-Compromise storage systems, it reminded me of why I started Freemens in the first place. Partnering with ION gives us the firepower to address a much larger market and increase our ability to service existing customers. Together we will build some deep technology to disrupt both the EV and energy storage markets.”
An Overview Of Battery Management Startup Freemens
Founded in October 2011, Freemens SAS is a provider of battery management systems for lithium-ion batteries. Headquartered in Grenoble, France, the company has been working to reduce degradation of these batteries by controlling the brain that manages them in real time. Their products are chemistry agnostic and work with all various chemistries including NCA, NMC and LFP, among others.
Freemens provides battery management solutions to 25+ customers. Its flagship products – FreeSafe-XT and LT battery management systems – are currently developed for high power electric vehicles, drones, speedboats and electric racing cars.
In fact, the products can work seamlessly across a wide range of specifications from 7V to over 1000V. According to Collect, these solutions are designed to offer the highest levels of security, maximise battery life and provide precise measurement of the battery status.
Furthermore, the company’s proprietary FreeWay Fleet management platform allows customers to remotely monitor the condition of use of their products and enable over the air (OTA) updates of the BMS algorithms, thus increasing battery life.
Post the acquisition by ION Energy, Freemens will continue working with its current clients which include Airbus Safran, CarWatt and NTN SNR, to name a few.
About ION Energy: From 2016 To Present
Based in Mumbai, ION Energy is an energy storage startup that is working to build a layer of infrastructure to enable faster adoption of high power electric vehicles in India. The company is in the business of high-performing batteries and electric vehicles, as stated by CEO Akhil Aryan during a recent interaction with Inc42.
ION Energy currently leverages deep proprietary technology that combines it strengthens in design, electromechanics and battery management systems and software. Apart from deploying its own systems and infrastructure, ION will license a chemistry agnostic and extensively cascadable architecture that enables rapid product development for customers that demand high-quality battery systems.
Over the past two years, the team has developed a power source that is based on more efficient and eco-friendly lithium-ion batteries. Additionally, it has designed a custom proprietary battery management system, which is connected to every single cell of the battery pack. The technology measures current, voltage and temperature on a real-time basis, and balances the entire battery, thereby increasing the life of the battery.
Although it has not yet disclosed specifics about the products under development, ION Energy claims to deliver a more lucrative price per kilometre, along with five-six times better acceleration, 10-12 times longer life, highest standards of safety and reliability along with the fastest replenishment (aka charging time) compared to existing EVs.
Furthermore, these plug and play batteries are made available exclusively to their anchor partner OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) and help reduce 40-45% upfront costs for end customers.
Speaking about the company’s offering, Aryan had told Inc42 last year, “All of this is possible by the use of our proprietary technology, custom algorithms of our battery management systems, and qualitative thermal management.”
The team is planning to unveil its products around Q2 2018. In May 2017, the startup reportedly raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from a clutch of investors, including Sushil Jiwarajka, Chairman of OMC Power and founder of Nippo Batteries; Aakrit Vaish and Swapan Rajdev, the founders of Haptik.
Executives from Times Internet, Dentsu Aegis, Salesforce, and Credit Suisse also participated in the round. The fundraise was reportedly utilised towards product development and bringing the technology closer to mass manufacturing.
As per the company’s official statement, ION Energy is currently planning to raise Series A funding later this year.
The country’s electric vehicles market is growing rapidly, thanks largely to the government’s continued push to switch to 100% EVs by 2030. As an added boost, a total of $40.5 Mn (INR 260 Cr) has been allotted to support market development of hybrid and electric vehicles in the Union Budget 2018.
In a sector that has seen the entry of big corporates like Mahindra and Mahindra, Tata Motors, Maruti Suzuki and Toyota, to name a few, the acquisition of Freemens is geared towards expanding ION Energy’s footprints in India and overseas, particularly in the US and other parts of the European Union.