Gasoline or electric?
On paper, electric cars would seem like the clear winner. They don’t spew smog, they have fewer moving parts to break down, and they aren’t powered by gallons of flammable liquid sloshing around in a metal tank.
For more than 100 years, gasoline-powered cars have dominated our roads for one simple reason: rechargeable electric batteries have been mostly lousy. They’re heavy, are full of caustic or toxic chemicals, and often held only enough charge to propel a car a few dozen miles.
Well, at least that used to be the case. In the past couple of decades, the advent of the lithium-ion battery has changed the playing field. And if consumers find themselves replacing their gas guzzler with an electric vehicle, they may have Cal Poly Pomona alumnus Anil Paryani to thank for it.
Paryani, who graduated with a degree in electrical and computer engineering, says he always enjoyed being around and working on cars. During his time at Cal Poly Pomona, he found just what he was looking for.
“Cal Poly Pomona had a solar car team and a hybrid car team,” he says. “There were a lot of exciting hands-on projects. I learned more at Cal Poly Pomona than I did in my whole life up to that point.”
His experiences on campus presaged the direction his career would take. Since graduating in 1992, Paryani has been elbows deep in the quest to squeeze every bit of potential out of lithium-ion batteries.
“I feel like I’ve contributed to the revolution of electrical vehicles,” he says. “It’s always good to work on something that not only makes you money, but creates a benefit for the world.”
First he went to work at Honda in their division focused on electric and hybrid vehicles. Then he moved on to AeroVironment, a Monrovia-based manufacturer of unmanned aerial vehicles and electric vehicles systems. The next step in his career arc was at one of the best-known and idiosyncratic players in the electric vehicle business — Tesla Motors. At Tesla, he was named lead of battery management systems, a position he says pushed him to think in new ways.
“I was never bored,” Paryani says. “There’s no such thing as being bored at Tesla.”
Fast forward a few more years and Paryani landed at Faraday Future, a U.S.-based, Chinese-backed upstart competitor to Tesla. Paryani says Faraday Future plans to focus on building well-connected electric cars that are not only modes of transportation, but also are an integral part of the way consumers live their lives.
“Tesla did an amazing job of creating the electric vehicle market. Now there’s more room for other players to bring their own innovations into the field,” he says.
At Faraday, Paryani is responsible for battery management, software electrical architecture and charging systems — pretty much designing the smarts in the car, he says.
This past summer, he brought more of the Cal Poly Pomona family into the fold at Faraday by recruiting 11 interns from the university. He says most of them excelled, and the company is making job offers to least five of them
“They did amazingly well,” he says. “Generally our bar is pretty high, so it’s hard to get in the door. One of them, Nabiha Iqra, who worked on schematic design for us, is graduating magna cum laude this year.”
“Another one of our interns, John Alsner, is very active in [Cal Poly Pomona’s] Formula SAE [program], and it shows in his work because he can jump right in and be part of a team.”