BMW wants to significantly improve the range and charging time of its »New Class« e-cars from 2025 with newly developed round cells and reduce the manufacturing costs of the batteries by up to 50 percent. To this end, the company plans to build battery cell factories at six locations.
High-performance, innovative and sustainably produced battery cells are a key success factor for individual electromobility of the future, according to BMW. With the New Class models, the BMW Group plans to launch a new era of e-mobility from 2025. Here, for the first time, the automaker is using newly developed, round battery cells that are optimally matched to the new architecture.
»With the newly developed sixth generation of our lithium-ion cells, we are about to make an enormous technological leap: energy density will be increased by more than 20 percent, charging speed will be increased by up to 30 percent and range will be improved by up to 30 percent,« says Frank Weber, member of the BMW Board of Management for Development. »We are also reducing CO2 emissions in cell production by up to 60 percent. These are big steps in terms of sustainability and customer benefit.«
»And to meet our needs in the long term, we will be working with our partners to build battery cell factories with an annual capacity of up to 20 GWh each at six locations in markets that are important to us: two in China, two in Europe and two in USMCA,« added Joachim Post, BMW board member for purchasing and supplier network. »In addition, for CO2-reduced manufacturing, we have agreed with our partners that they will use a proportion of secondary materials for the raw materials lithium, cobalt and nickel and use green electricity in production.«
The BMW Group has placed orders worth a double-digit billion euro amount for the production of the new BMW battery cells. Thanks to in-house expertise from the company's own Battery Cell Competence Center, the team from Development, Production and Purchasing has succeeded in significantly reducing the cost of high-voltage storage through the new battery cell and the new integration concept of the storage technology developed by BMW. Based on current market assumptions, costs can be reduced by up to 50 percent compared to the current, fifth generation. The company has set itself the goal of bringing the manufacturing costs of fully electric models up to the level of vehicles with state-of-the-art combustion engine technology.
The battery cell is responsible for key properties of e-vehicles: range, driving performance and charging time. For the sixth-generation BMW eDrive technology used in the New Class, the company has fundamentally refined the cell format and cell chemistry. With the BMW round cell specially designed for the e-architecture of the New Class models, it is possible to increase the range by up to 30 percent (according to WLTP) in the model with the longest range.
The BMW round cells have a uniform diameter of 46 mm and two different heights. In relation to the prismatic cells of the fifth BMW battery cell generation, the nickel content is increased on the cathode side and the cobalt content is reduced at the same time in the sixth-generation BMW round cells. On the anode side, the silicon content is increased. As a result, the volumetric energy density in the cell increases by more than 20 percent.
The storage system plays a key role in the body structure of the new class. Depending on the model, it can be integrated flexibly and in a space-saving manner in the installation space (pack-to-open-body). The cell module level is eliminated.
The energy storage, drive and charging technology of the New Class will also have a voltage increased to 800 V. This will make it possible, among other things, to feed in power to the grid. Among other things, this will optimize the supply of energy to DC fast-charging stations. There, a significantly increased charging capacity can be achieved at a current of up to 500 A, reducing the time required for charging from 10 to 80 percent by up to 30 percent.
To meet the demand for battery cells for the New Class, the BMW Group has already awarded a double-digit billion euro contract to two partners to build battery cell factories: CATL and EVE Energy. Both partners will build two gigafactories each in China and Europe. Each of the battery cell factories will have a total annual capacity of up to 20 GWh. Two additional battery cell factories, pending partner nomination, will be built in the North American Free Trade Area (USMCA) region.
The three regions will also benefit economically through new supply chains, new networks for sub-suppliers and new jobs.