BMW Looking To Share Samsung SDI Battery Technology?

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 10

Samsung SDI battery cells

Samsung SDI battery cells

BMW i3 Powered By Samsung SDI

BMW i3 Powered By Samsung SDI

Or not?

A rather odd bit of news made the rounds recently in which it was claimed that “To gain economies of scale, BMW is open to sharing with rival automakers the electric-vehicle battery cell technology it co-developed with Samsung SDI.”

That’s per Automotive News, who adds:

BMW purchasing boss Klaus Draeger said sharing the technology would reduce the cost of the battery cells — the most expensive part of an electric vehicle.

“If Mercedes called us, we would be happy to find a way with Samsung SDI to supply them with battery cells,” he said.

Only problem is that BMW (like Tesla) doesn’t have its own battery technology to share, so how can it be claimed that BMW is open to sharing its battery cell technology?

Presumably, BMW believes it could arrive at a positive outcome after discussing this sharing with Samsung SDI.  However, Samsung SDI alreay supplies other automakers with similar (possibly even identical) lithium-ion cells, so we haven’t really a clue how BMW would have any control over this.

From our viewpoint, it looks as though perhaps BMW was just trying to grab some headlines, which it has succeeded in doing quite well.

BMW (like Tesla) has not battery technology to share, so nix that idea.  Time to move along.

Could Samsung SDI provide its cells to more automakers in the future?  Sure and guess what…Tesla is likely first in line for those Samsung SDI cells (different format from what BMW uses in the i3), which it’ll use in the Model X.

Source: Automotive News

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10 responses to "BMW Looking To Share Samsung SDI Battery Technology?"

  1. Rob says:

    You make certain assumptions in this article, which you should not make without reading the agreement between BMW and Samsung. If the chemistry in the batteries supplied by Samsung to BMW was developed on BMW’s order, the development agreement could provide for exclusivity of the chemistry. In other words, Samsung would not be able to supply batteries with the same chemistry to any other car manufacturer without BMW’s permission.

  2. EVadopter says:

    “Only problem is that BMW (like Tesla) doesn’t have its own battery technology to share”

    Actually, Tesla developed (and owns) much of the battery technology that goes into their vehicles.

    While Panasonic may own the specific chemical recipe in the batteries, it was Tesla that refined and optimized the 18650 for automotive use.

    These refinements are arguably more important than the specific chemical formula being used because they simplify manufacturing and cut cost no matter what chemical recipe is being used.

    That doesn’t even take into account all the I.P. Tesla owns at the “module” and “pack” level.

    Tesla DOES have its own technology to share.

    1. JakeY says:

      Tesla owns IP in the cell level too. If you look their patents, they have some on cell design too. Tesla’s cells aren’t just standard off-the-shelf 18650s, even though they are the same size.

  3. TomArt says:

    What’s the reason for the line that the Model X will have Samsung batteries? That’s news to me – Tesla has never expressed any interest in formats outside of the 18650 form factor, and their hope to make slightly larger, optimized versions in the gigafactory. Adopting those SDIs would completely negate their cooling designs, etc. The more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      Hey Tom, Samsung SDI makes the 18650 format. For Tesla, the reason for any additional tie-ups I imagine is to hedge its bets away from having a single supplier? Good to have a back-up plan we suppose.

      1. Mikael says:

        2800 mAh? Was that just an example that Samsung does 18650’s too or is it what will be going into the Model X?

        Is there any news or rumours of a current or future model using the 3400 mAh or even 4000 mAh?

        1. Jay Cole says:

          I was just using that as a example of Samsung using 18650, (=

          Tesla keeps its cards close, we won’t know if Samsung SDI is even in the cards on the Model X for sure for a few more months.

          Tesla has said they were in negotiations with Samsung on the deal. Apparently testing was completed on the cells, and “sources” said the deal was 90% complete at the end of last year…then nada.

          1. Joshua Burstyn says:

            Is there more of a reason why Tesla would take interest in the Samsung cells? They’re 2,800mAh whereas the 180650B cells from Panasonic are already at 3,400mAh per my understanding.

            Furthermore I believe Tesla has altered the organic solvent chemistry for EV usage such that the cells get much better cycle life. This was detailed in the “Why do Lithium Ion Batteries Die? and How to Improve The Situation” lecture available on Youtube.

      2. TomArt says:

        OK – thanks!

  4. Cavaron says:

    My guess is, that BMW is searching for a partner to give Samsung a good reason to ramp up battery production – maybe even with a new production site in europe.