Company coming to Knoxville to make ‘life-saving’ electric vehicle technology


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Technology meant to save lives for electric vehicle drivers is made here in East Tennessee, and a new company is looking to sell it.

“We are very excited to be in Knoxville,” said John Lee, CEO of Safire.

Lee said the company is going to produce technology that goes inside lithium batteries for electric vehicles. The technology prevents the batteries from catching fire in a crash.

“Just as when airbags first came out, everybody said, ‘Why aren’t airbags in every single car?’ Lee said. “I think everyone will say, ‘why isn’t Safire in every single electric vehicle car?”

Lee said Safire is opening a lab at the University of Tennessee, where they’ll bring in high-paying jobs and interns.

Lee said the technology was made at Oak Ridge Lab, a big reason why opening a lab in Knoxville makes sense. However, he also pointed to Tennessee being a hotbed for electric vehicle manufacturing with more than $16 billion dollars invested in EV projects since 2017.

“There’s increased number of companies and factories, even giga-factories being set up here around lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. And we want to be in close proximity,” Lee said.

Lee said the company was launched a couple of years ago but is just now starting to commercialize.

The technology is not in EVs yet. Lee said the company is making prototypes for research and design, and they’re trying to connect with battery manufacturers as well as the Departments of Transportation and Energy.

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