Atlis is not just another electric truck company. It is getting ready to be the only EV battery maker in the U.S. that can charge 500 miles in under 15 minutes using a 1.5-megawatt charging system. The company is aiming to reveal the 500-mile Atlis XT pickup truck soon.
Auto Futures talks with Atlis President, Annie Pratt.
“Our CEO and founder Mark Hanchett is a visionary. He does the engineering, development and design while I do the business side. That’s our yin and yang,” says Pratt.
She came to Atlis in 2019 after working with Hanchett at Axon Enterprise, where she started directly out of college with a degree in product design from Stanford University.
“At Axon, it was like running a business where each division had its own profit and loss,” says Pratt who is 29 years old, and muses, “It’s pretty cool being president.”
How Does Atlis Look at Electrification?
“The way we look at the electrification of vehicles is to find a different way and proof of concept for very fast-charging batteries,” says Pratt.
The problem with electrification is the long charging. Instead of changing the battery cell chemistry. Atlis set out to solve the problem differently, says Pratt.
“We take the existing chemistry of batteries and find a way to charge them fast. The batteries have longer battery life and also deal with the heat problem,” says Pratt.
In February, Atlis announced that is partnering with Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI) to advance battery development.
Atlis is targeting a 500-mile battery pack that should be chargeable in 15 minutes with million-mile battery life. Atlis is not looking for individual use sales but industries such as agriculture and fleets. The workers don’t want to charge at home but can charge quickly at work.
The way to charge quickly is through the Altis 1.5-megawatt charging system with a battery buffer in the charger, says Pratt, who grew up working on an Alfalfa farm in the Woodlawn, Sacramento area of California.
Pratt says Atlis is not a traditional vehicle manufacturer and sees Atlis as a disruptor to the automotive space.
“We want to disrupt traditional automotive. We are not trying to connect to the people who use the same pickup truck for their entire life. We are working with fleets. Fleets solely base their decisions on performance and total cost. They don’t need the bells and whistles. We believe that fleets will shift to electric first and then consumers using those trucks for fleets will then change their buying habits.”
“When we look at other electric truck makers on the market. The difference is that Atlis has groundbreaking technology for batteries and its systems. Therefore we have control over the supply chain while other truck makers are subject to supply chain relationships,” she adds.
She notes the pillars of the company include superior performance battery technology, XP Platform and connected vehicle technology, advanced fast 1.5MW charging system and the XT Pickup truck.
“I’m excited about how electric trucks can have cost-saving reliability and offer independence from gas,” she says.
“As a start-up, I’m working every waking hour.”
Atlas will reveal the XT truck prototype soon. Atlis is working on building batteries and also working with partners to bring in the parts that are not of critical value. Then Atlis will own its own motor and motor controls, says Pratt.
After building out the current factory in Mesa, Arizona, Atlis is planning the next phase will be building a Greenfield development manufacturing plant in 2023 with solar power in the future.
“The problem of battery manufacturing is waste. Waste comes when things are scaled up too quickly. Right now we are still making the batteries manually until we find a way to make them efficiently and then there is less waste,” says Pratt.
Atlis’ batteries and the entire vehicle will be designed with recycling in mind. Atlis will be able to reuse all the materials. Pratt refers to the company as a start-up stage when asked how many hours a day she’s working she answered, “As a start-up, I’m working every waking hour.”
“It has been an interesting time to observe the SPACs and how they work. We are watching that closely and paying attention to how the FCC is regulating SPACs. I think the key to projection is making a really good business plan with buffers in it for all types of changes that can happen. Then have confidence in the plan,” she says.
Atlis announced the prices for the trucks will be between $45,000 and $85,000. “We are comfortable with the numbers and the pricing that is very competitive with gas and diesel trucks,” says Pratt.
The challenge of working in Arizona is the heat which also works as a test. “The Arizona heat tested our battery dry room. It has to be kept at a specific humidity and temperature when the temperature outside was recently at 118° F (47.777 °C),” explains Pratt, who says the room worked.
What is the Future of Electric Trucks?
“I think the future is electric. In the future, trucking is going to be like how you buy an iPhone. The ownership will shift to subscription, paid by the month. Instead of buying trucks, a fleet will subscribe to ten trucks. Then if something goes wrong, we can swap it out,” concludes Pratt.