big progress promised for batteries

BMW’s anti-Tesla models will usher in a new generation of batteries, with cylindrical cells.

The ambitious “Neue Klasse” project continues to take shape at BMW. Two models have been confirmed, a sedan and a sporty SUV. In the words of the brand, they will usher in a “new era” in electro-mobility.

In addition to having an unprecedented platform, dedicated to electric motorization, these vehicles will be entitled to a new type of battery, optimized for this base. At BMW, this will be the sixth generation of lithium-ion batteries. It will have cylindrical cells.

According to the brand, there will be real progress, with energy density improved by 20%, autonomy up to 30% and charging speed up by 30%. At the same time, BMW intends to reduce the CO2 emissions generated by the production of these batteries by 60%. For the cells, BMW is committed to using some recycled materials.

For this new generation of batteries, the brand has reviewed the format and chemistry of the cells. The cylindrical cells will have a standard diameter of 46 mm, and will be available in two heights. Compared to the fifth generation prismatic cells, the nickel content of the sixth generation cells is higher on the cathode side, while the cobalt content is reduced. On the anode side, the silicon content is increased. As a result, the energy density of the cell will improve by more than 20%.

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The battery can also be more flexible to better integrate into the vehicle and avoid wasting space. Thanks to a set operating under 800V voltage, the Neue Klasse will support higher charging powers.

BMW has big ambitions for these models in terms of sales volumes. These vehicles will be its equivalent to the Tesla Model 3 and Y. It is therefore necessary to ensure a huge volume of battery production. Six “gigafactories” are planned with partners, including CATL and EVE Energy. There will be two plants in China, two in Europe, two in America, with up to 20 GWh of capacity per site.

Another very important aspect: lower costs. And BMW is also ambitious on this point: compared to its fifth generation of batteries, the sixth would be half the price! The manufacturer is thus aiming for an overall production cost similar to that of a thermal model.

The first Neue Klasse will be launched in 2025.

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