Dramatic gains made by new BMW battery

Dramatic gains made by new BMW battery

BMW has revealed details of its next-era, Gen6 lithium ion batteries, due to arrive in the Neue Klasse series of electric cars from 2025.

Thomas Albrecht, BMW’s head of Efficient Dynamics, told Autocar: “Gen6 batteries will give us 30% or more range than our current Gen5, but we won’t go over 1000km [620 miles] of range even though we can. We don’t think that such a long range is necessary.”

The batteries will adopt a cylindrical shape – as favoured by Tesla – rather than the flat, prismatic cell shape currently used. DC rapid-charging time is set to be improved to support ultra-rapid charging of around 270kW – on a par with the Porsche Taycan. Weight comes in at roughly 300kg per pack, which is 10-20% less than the existing Gen5.

The Gen6 cylindrical cells are a unique BMW chemistry, using less cobalt but more nickel, and are ultimately an evolution of the conventional lithium ion chemistry that is common in today’s EVs. The change in cell shape has also brought about a new battery pack design that is slimmer and allows for a more versatile ‘pack-to-open-body’ installation, where the battery essentially becomes an integral part of the car’s structure. Company experts wouldn’t be drawn on the longevity of the new batteries, but Albrecht confirmed that “legislation is coming in to further guarantee battery life. For instance, the US will require a minimum 80% battery performance after 10 years. We are performing better than that.”

To cope with demand for the new Gen6 batteries, BMW is planning six new battery plants, in the US, Canada, China, Europe and Mexico. There are financial benefits, too, because BMW estimates that the changes in battery design and manufacturing process will reduce production costs by 50% – a big saving given that, currently, the battery accounts for around 40% of the whole cost of an EV. Gen6 batteries will be used in all of BMW’s brands, ranging from Rolls-Royce right through to Mini, following their introduction in 2025.

Gen6 batteries are cylindrical. New batteries are destined for cars such as 3 Series EV

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