200 million euros in investment for 200 employees. This is how the BMW Group’s new competence center for battery cells can also be defined. The center is due to open in 2019 and it is already symbolic of the Munich-based electromobility strategy. Over the next four years, around 200 million euros will flow into the site to advance battery cell technology.
“(…) In the new development laboratories and systems, we are now focusing international experts on battery cells and their further development in chemistry and design. The focus is on further improvements in performance, service life, safety, charging and, last but not least, the cost of the batteries. This makes us the benchmark for the entire competition. ”- Klaus Fröhlich, Board Member for Development and Research BMW AG
Optimizing the heart of the electric car
Researching the battery cell is about the heart of every battery. In the cell itself, performance, energy content as well as charging capacity and service life are determined. Ultimately, the entire performance of the vehicle depends on the cell itself. In the competence center, the technology and the design of the cell are to be analyzed and, logically, improved later. In the process, prototypes are built in small form, which test different compositions of cell chemistry and materials. Above all, the critical application in extremely cold situations during charging and fast charging is being researched.
“The production of battery cell prototypes enables us to fully analyze and understand the cell’s value creation processes. This build-to-print competence helps us to enable potential suppliers in cell production according to our specifications. This gain in knowledge is decisive for us, regardless of whether we produce the battery cell ourselves or not. ”- Oliver Zipse, Board Member for Production BMW AG
Direct product specifications for production
Build-to-print competence means passing on exact product specifications and specifications according to which a contractor can produce. The specification includes everything necessary from the cell design and the integration of the battery systems to the selection of materials and production technology. BMW AG hopes that this will give it a clear competitive advantage, also in terms of cost advantages and economies of scale.
The end customer will probably be able to see the first results in 2021. Then the new electric drives from a new component, which connects the electric motor, transmission and power electronics, are in series. This will be the fifth generation of e-drives for the BMW Group. The motor, transmission and power electronics are then combined in one drive component (see Bosch e-axis). In addition to the more compact design and the scalability of the drive, it can also do without rare earths in the electric motor.
The batteries will also be scalable later, with which purely electric vehicles should cover a range of up to 700 kilometers. The future plug-in hybrid models will then cover up to 100 kilometers in purely electric mode.
Photos: BMW AG