James Eaton is the CEO & Founder of IONETIC, a business that’s helping small vehicle manufacturers switch to electric. The company is a UK-based battery pack developer offering an end-to-end, in-house battery solution from initial conceptualization to mass production. According to IONETIC, Its state-of-the-art EV battery pack design platform can drastically cut the development cost and time for automotive manufacturers bringing a new electric vehicle to market.
IONETIC’s design platform can enhance the energy density of EV battery packs by over 30% compared to existing off-the-shelf solutions, and the software quickly generates customizable, optimized designs that can increase the utilization of pack volume by up to 120%.
Before starting IONETIC, Eaton studied Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London, where he became a researcher at the Electrochemical Science and Engineering Group there.
The EV Report recently connected with the CEO & Founder to learn more about the company and how IONETIC is looking to impact the electric vehicle industry.
What do you think are the main challenges that automotive manufacturers are currently facing as they transition toward an electrified future?
Many smaller vehicle companies are in critical need of support in all stages of the battery pack value chain – from having the initial vision to producing a vehicle-ready, fully optimized battery.
When I first began working with them, I saw quickly that the existing solutions available were either substandard, too expensive, or took far too long to develop. It became clear that, especially for the smaller and niche manufacturers who often need something bespoke and not necessarily mass-produced, a business like IONETIC was needed.
What stages do OEMs need to go through to get a battery pack into production?
There are lots of different decisions that go into making a new battery pack. Fortunately, many of them are built into our battery design platform, saving years on the development timeline.
At a high level, you must go through design, testing, and certification before finally going into mass production. Currently, these stages are often done by different companies, creating a fragmented process, which is difficult to manage for the OEM, and where everyone takes their own profit margin. At IONETIC, we facilitate all these stages, simplifying the process and reducing the cost for EV OEMs.
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced since launching the company, and how have you overcome these?
The biggest challenge is the chicken and egg problem – i.e., you need financial backing to scale to show potential customers, and you need customers to get money to scale. We think the best way to overcome this is to do as much as possible with as little as possible, like creating small-scale MVPs to demonstrate your capability. Another way to get early customer traction is by demonstrating that you know your technology really well.
Competition in the EV space is stronger than ever right now – what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs founding businesses in highly competitive industries?
While there may be competition, demand is way higher than supply and will probably stay that way for a while. You’ve also got to focus on segmenting the market. The automotive market is around $3Tn, and no company can serve it all. So it’s important to break down who your target customers are by volume, type, and geography.
Being very strategic will also make your life easier. If you make sure you have a clear strategy for success and that you’re on top of your timelines, then it should reduce stress. Timings and timelines are also important in many aspects of a business, as they help you plan and allow you to track your company against its goals.
Most importantly, though, starting is the best thing you can do. There’s no point in waiting for an ideal time as it will never exist – just start and be prepared to learn fast.
How has IONETIC evolved since it was created, and why did you make these changes?
When we launched in January 2022, we were going to be a consultancy. However, after listening to our customer’s problems, we realized that a complete end-to-end battery pack solution was needed. This led us to pivot in January/February to create a great battery pack solution targeted mainly at low-volume customers.
Where do you see yourself and your start-up IONETIC in five years?
We’re currently around a year old, so we have a long way to go. A manufacturing facility is our next big step. The ultimate goal is for us to be the go-to for battery pack design and manufacture in Europe and save over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere by 2027.
You can learn more about IONETIC by going here.