BMW: 5th Generation Electric Drive To Be Extremely Compact

DEC 30 2018 BY MARK KANE 56

Compact drive systems are the way to go

According to latest interview with Stefan Juraschek, Vice President Development Electric-Powertrain at BMW, the crucial advantage of the upcoming fifth-generation drive system is high integration of electric motor, transmission and power electronics into single component.

The 5th generation drive system to be more capable in terms of performances and smaller, as well as cheaper than the current generation.

“A crucial advantage of this fifth-generation system is that the electric motor, transmission and power electronics now form a single, highly integrated electric drive component. This extremely compact unit takes up far less space than the three separate components used in preceding generations. Its modular construction means that it is scalable, too, allowing it to be modified to suit all sorts of different installation spaces and power requirements. The BMW Group will start to fit the next generation of battery cells in the new, scalable and even more powerful vehicle batteries alongside the introduction of the new electric drive components. The modular “building block” concept will allow the new batteries to be incorporated flexibly into every vehicle architecture. Another highly integrated component will be added to the portfolio in the form of a DC/DC charger unit.”

The German manufacturer prepares the new architecture to achieve flexibility and scalability of production of drive system and battery packs between various models. All types (BEVs, PHEVs, HEVs and ICE) will be produced on the same production lines.

“On the one hand, we will have flexible vehicle architectures and, on the other, the scalable and modular building blocks for the electric drive systems. This will bring about a lasting increase in flexibility. In future, we will be able to swiftly decide which models we are going to equip with what mix of all-electric drive, plug-in hybrid drive or exceptionally efficient combustion engines. This will let us partially or fully electrify each model in accordance with market demand, creating the basis for the mass-market introduction of pure battery electric vehicles in the future.”

The all-electric models will be up to 700 km (435 miles) on a single charge in top configuration, while the plug-in hybrids are up to 100 km (62 miles).

Current lineup:

  • BMW i3 (third model evolution with 120 Ah)
  • BMW i3s
  • BMW i8 Coupe (2nd model evolution)
  • BMW i8 Roadster
  • BMW 740e and BMW 740Le
  • BMW 530e
  • BMW 225xe Active Tourer
  • MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4
  • BMW X1 xDrive25Le (in China only)

Upcoming models for 2019:

  • BMW 3 Series Sedan – new plug-in hybrid variant (2nd model evolution)
  • BMW X5

Upcoming models with 5th generation drive system:

  • BMW iX3 in 2020 (first based on 5th generation drivetrain)
  • BMW i4
  • BMW iNEXT

Plan for 2025:

  • 25 plug-in cars, 12 BEVs and 13 PHEVs

Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Size comparison with BMW i3 e-motor with power electronics, without transmission (left).

Full interview:

Stefan Juraschek

Mr. Juraschek, was BMW slow off the mark with electric mobility?
Juraschek: No, absolutely not. The BMW Group actually played a pioneering role with BMW i. Today we are the premium manufacturer offering the widest range of battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. We currently produce the following electrified models: the BMW i3 (third model evolution with 120 Ah) , BMW i3s, BMW i8 Coupe, BMW i8 Roadster, BMW 740e, BMW 740Le, BMW 530e, BMW 225xe Active Tourer, MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 and, in China, the BMW X1 xDrive25Le. Plus, we have also announced new plug-in hybrid variants of the 3 Series Sedan and BMW X5 for 2019 following the arrival of new model generations. This number is set to grow to at least 13 plug-in hybrid models by 2025. Adding these to the wide selection of all-electric cars – whose range is due to increase substantially next year incidentally – will bring the portfolio of electrified vehicles to at least 25.

Sales topped the 100,000 mark last year and will have grown by around 50% this year.

Is the BMW Group prepared if electric mobility starts to gather momentum at an even greater pace in future?
Juraschek: The BMW Group is already developing its fifth generation of electric drive systems, meaning that it has created an excellent foundation for the future. This latest generation will go into service as soon as 2020 in the BMW iX3.

A crucial advantage of this fifth-generation system is that the electric motor, transmission and power electronics now form a single, highly integrated electric drive component. This extremely compact unit takes up far less space than the three separate components used in preceding generations. Its modular construction means that it is scalable, too, allowing it to be modified to suit all sorts of different installation spaces and power requirements. The BMW Group will start to fit the next generation of battery cells in the new, scalable and even more powerful vehicle batteries alongside the introduction of the new electric drive components. The modular “building block” concept will allow the new batteries to be incorporated flexibly into every vehicle architecture. Another highly integrated component will be added to the portfolio in the form of a DC/DC charger unit.

So how will it all work?
Juraschek: On the one hand, we will have flexible vehicle architectures and, on the other, the scalable and modular building blocks for the electric drive systems. This will bring about a lasting increase in flexibility. In future, we will be able to swiftly decide which models we are going to equip with what mix of all-electric drive, plug-in hybrid drive or exceptionally efficient combustion engines. This will let us partially or fully electrify each model in accordance with market demand, creating the basis for the mass-market introduction of pure battery electric vehicles in the future.

Don’t you think there is a risk of not being able to obtain the necessary quantities of raw materials once battery electric vehicles start to be produced in big numbers?
Juraschek: We do not see any supply risks, even in the event of growing demand for battery cells. My colleagues in Purchasing have secured a reliable supply with long-term contracts. We have also built up in-house battery cell expertise over the course of joint projects with international partners throughout the value chain. This is used to ensure access to the technology and to safeguard supplies. At the same time, we are also endeavouring to gradually lower the proportion of critical raw materials that are used. For example, one of the key objectives of our research and development activities is to bring about a substantial reduction in the proportion of cobalt in battery cells.

The electric motor in our fifth-generation electric powertrain is another illustration of this, as it is completely free of rare earths.

Staying on the subject of battery cells: Some well-known competitors of yours are employing round cells or pouch cells. Why are you using prismatic cells?
Juraschek: The prismatic hard case arrangement makes the battery modules more suitable for industrialisation by increasing the level of automation during module assembly. Besides this, safety systems such as a safety valve for shutting down the cell in the event of a short circuit can be integrated more easily. It also allows us to achieve a higher packing density, meaning that optimum use can be made of the installation space in the vehicle.

Battery cell manufacturers in China, Japan and Korea have been investing enormous sums of money in cell development and future battery technologies for years now. Is it still possible to catch up with them, both technologically and economically? Juraschek: We don’t consider any of our competitors to hold an advantage over us when it comes to the battery technology. When all the characteristics are viewed together, our battery technology is on a par with or superior to the competition’s, depending on how you look at it. We have been dealing with the issue of battery cells since 2008 and are in a strong position today thanks, among other things, to an international network of collaborations. For us, it is important to continue to expand our in-house expertise and keep advancing battery cell technology. What’s more, building battery cell prototypes and producing small batches enables us to fully analyse the production processes and acquire build-to-print capabilities. In this way, we can provide system suppliers with exact instructions based on BMW Group specifications, from material selection through to cell production.

So why don’t you produce the battery cells yourselves? Juraschek: In the BMW Group’s view, producing the cells would not give us a competitive advantage, either now or in years to come. We make electrical components ourselves, using our in-house manufacturing facilities, whenever we think there is an advantage to be gained from it, as is the case with the electric powertrain. That’s why we use supplied battery cells to produce the modules ourselves, before turning them into complete high-voltage batteries.

Is it really worth doing that? Surely you could buy the electric motor from a supplier instead?
Juraschek: When the development plans for the BMW i3 became tangible, there wasn’t a single electric motor on the market that would have met all our criteria. And today we are still just as unwilling to make any compromises when it comes to key performance characteristics, such as space requirements, output and weight. Drive systems have always been an area that has set the BMW Group apart from the competition. And exactly the same applies to electric drive systems.

All electric motors are basically the same, though. Can customers really notice a difference?
Juraschek: The customer may not be able to identify every characteristic of an electric motor, but a significant difference does become apparent in head-to-head comparisons. Probably the most obvious thing that the customer will notice is the speed up to which the motor can sustain its performance. A more indirect effect is that the vehicle’s range will drop faster if the electric motor operates less efficiently.

The BMW Group is working together with Northvolt and Umicore. Why is that exactly?
Juraschek: The objective is to establish a closed lifecycle loop for sustainable battery cells in Europe. This starts with a recyclable cell design and continues with a production process that mainly uses renewable energies. The battery cells should first fulfil their primary purpose in cars for as long as possible. Once their lifecycle there comes to an end, they could potentially be used in stationary energy storage devices. Finally, the battery cell is recycled and the raw materials reused, completing the loop.

And what are the tasks fulfilled by each of the three partners?
Juraschek: The BMW Group is focusing on cell development, Northvolt is building a cell production facility in Sweden and Umicore is the materials cycle and recycling expert.

BMW had already come up with some developments for materials recycling. What do you now expect to achieve by joining forces with Umicore?
Juraschek: Yes, both partners are embarking on this project with their own fundamental developments. We are working together with Umicore on the development of recyclable cell/battery technology that is then followed by a sustainable production process. At a later stage, large quantities of material will, of course, be fed back into the loop for recycling. Before this happens, however, I foresee a long phase of primary use in vehicles followed by second-life use in stationary storage devices.

How does this secondary use work exactly?
Juraschek: As far as the BMW Group is concerned, employing used batteries as stationary energy storage devices is a logical step towards holistic sustainability. The use of stationary energy storage devices is set to gain greatly in importance with the ongoing energy revolution. At times when surplus electrical power is generated from renewable sources, it can be stored in these stationary devices. And during periods of low electricity generation, the storage device can then release the accumulated power. We have already successfully implemented this type of power grid stabilisation with used batteries from BMW i3 and MINI E prototypes as part of joint development projects with partners such as Vattenfall, Bosch and NextEra. The energy storage farm at BMW Group Plant Leipzig, which holds a total of 700 BMW i3 batteries, is one example of how profitable use can be made of batteries at the end of their service life in vehicles by giving them a second life as part of a sustainable energy model. This demonstrates once again how the sustainability concept at BMW i extends far beyond the vehicle.

Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component.
16 photos
Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Size comparison with BMW i3 e-motor with power electronics, without transmission (left). Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component. Prototype production of new and more powerful battery packs for the fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train. Prototype production of new and more powerful battery packs for the fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train. Prototype production of future battery modules for the fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train. Prototype production of future battery modules for the fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train. Prototype production of future fifth-generation BMW Group e-drive train: electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a separate, compact e-drive component.

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56 Comments on "BMW: 5th Generation Electric Drive To Be Extremely Compact"

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Really cool. Love seeing the evolution of the EV platform, just keeps getting better and better.

The i4 will be a definitely interesting vehicle, just waiting for the price to hit.
The i3, I hope the continue the evolution of the electric motor for more power and efficiency and drop an update into the i3 too.
Let’s hope BMW USA dealers plan to sell them.

My guess is BMW EU could sell them all, or maybe sell them all into Denmark.

In other words, Tesla is the only one with sufficient capacity.

I think it is awesome that BMW won their Formula E race first time out. Having to go as fast as possible on little energy as possible is directly applicable in street applications. Racing competition is great for the advancement of EV technology.

Mmmm. At the end of the video there is what appears to be an all-electric BMW i8. Also, in the slide show of still images… (Mmmmm. that’s a cute girl!) there is a battery pack shown at the end that is very flat like it goes up underneath a vehicle but has a hump in the middle. I do not recognize what vehicle that goes to. Any guesses? Something new, perhaps?

My guess is the iX3.

Mr. Jurassic does not know what he talks about,he has not seen the Sandy Munro teardown of the Mod3 powertrain and electronics ,Sandy says the Mod3 is generations ahead of anything anybody has in cost and performance and weight and UBS bank confirmed it Mr Jurssic s name fits him to a Tee.

Sandy Munro does not know what others are working on.

I don’t understand why the Tesla fanbois take such an antagonistic, and biased, view of other EV makers. BMW is very capable of making a quality EV, they just didn’t quite nail the packaging with the i3. Many manufacturers need to succeed at making the EV transition – and many will.

Yup, hooray for BMW, hooray for us all.
Might even get a frunk next.
The market for BEVs is massive, if Tesla is the only one, then the mission has failed.

Frankly I love the i3 look and think it’s better looking than any of the Tesla models. Just a hatchback guy. Style is for the most part subjective. Now you want ugly? Yeah….whatever Toyota is doing to not just the Prius but the entire lineup of Toyota cars. Add Honda in there too with the new Insight and the Clarity…nasty. The accord too for that matter. U.G.L.Y. you ain’t got no alibi….you ugly.

But that’s just an opinion. VW and BMW are pouring billions into EVs and are quite serious about it. That’s a fact. People who think it’s some kind of strange oil driven Koch conspiracy head fake vaporware are seriously confused and do the entire EV industry a disservice by making it easier for anti-EV people (actual ones not the tinfoil hat pipe dreams) to dismiss the entire thing as some bad joke being played on capitalism.

Tom- it’s time for an eye exam.

You rate the Insight and Clarity the same when it comes to looks?

Yikes. They’re polar opposites to me. The Clarity is hideous, while the Insight is a few details away from good looking.

If they swapped bodies, the Clarity PHEV would sell twice as much as the Volt’s at it’s peak.

Doesn’t make any sense. In Europe BMW sold as many i3 this year as Tesla did sell Model S&X together.

Home Market Advantage, like Behemoth Airbus? How many i3 did BMW sell on Tesla’s Home Market, versus the Lower Volume Model S?

Since the Model 3’s volume is from the beginning, targeted to exceed Model S volume, i3 has a (Market) penetration problem!

Model 3 has not even “Started” delivering in EU yet! Lets see how 2019 shapes up, for this “Upstart”, shall we?

Is it the car, the looks, or the dealership model?
Why the i3 doesn’t sell well in the USA?

It’s part looks until you get used to it.
But, this is a nice sports CUV type commuter car, that’s like a vacation every day to drive.

Well, he did state they have been “Pioneer’s”, in battery development since 2008, kind of when Tesla Sold their first BEV Roadsters, and – GM was pioneering before that, back in 1996-2001, with EV1, so, it does seem more like a strong marketing claim, than any prophetic indicator of their future success, but, let’s see how it all shakes out! That said, why are ALL Other Mainstream ICE Vehicle makers surprised by the Model 3 Ramp Up taking their Sales? It has been no secret that it is coming, mostly since Elons “Secret Master Plan” Blog Post, a March 31st, 2016 Unveiling, announcements of 450,000 Model 3 Reservations (Largely from just Die Hard Tesla EV Fans), and last Quarters Volume Numbers from Tesla, showing some serious gain in delivery rates, over production rates? So, that BMW, whose 3 Series cars have been the clear target of Elin’s Model 3 Marketing Plans, should be responding, is only fitting, and one would expect, as fast as possible! For the sake of less ICE Pollution, let’s hope they can deliver, at least as good as their plan! However, even though GM “Beat” Tesla to market with “An Affordable 200+ Miles Range BEV”, it… Read more »

Why so trollish? “Sandy says” is not a good argument.

An appeal to authority citing Sandy Munro’s teardown of the Model 3 certainly is a better source for a claim that many or most of the arguments made on EV forums. Not to say that Sandy knows everything — in fact, some of his assertions even in his second revisionist video about his Model 3 teardown show a surprising lack of understanding about EV engineering.

But he is an acknowledged expert in the field of doing teardown analyses of automobiles to estimate manufacturing costs, and he and his team did spend a lot of time and effort tearing the Model 3 apart for close examination, down to the last nut and bolt.

Citing Sandy Munro as an authority is “trollish”??? Not even remotely.

Ahem,
More compact than the 10 year old BMW platform? 🙄
More compact than the current market standard Model 3?
Tell us!
Schow us!
Sell us!

It’s a Bulky & Cumbersome looking Unit .. * 🙁 *

If it’s a complete axle then it looks comparable to the NIDEC solution.

Nice report, interesting to see the comment on no risk from supply of any components including battery cells. Basically saying that the reason they don’t have enough Li-ion batteries is they did not order enough (underestimated future demand). Sounds like they place the order and they have no problem getting them.

Yep! But if they underestimate again they may get into problems. But the same would apply when you have the cell production in house and have not planned for enough production capacity..

Their Fictional Battery Orders are going into pretend EV’s . Hence , they have no problem getting them , &, as Many as they want ! . lol.. . * 🙂 *

Glad they are working on this.

This is a great Article. Something you’d think you’d see at ArsTechica.
But, instead over there, they’re praising the Obsolete Alfa, with NO MENTION of the Tesla Model 3.
And when questioned they DO NOT DENY taking industry Payola, just Ban You.

The Effect of Chinese Tariffs on Rare Earths:
This 5th Gen of Electric motors are Completely Free of Rare Earth metals.
— Interesting Economics Lesson.

It’s the economy, idiots! 😉

Jokes aside, market is just an equilibrium, like a chemical reaction. Try to disbalance it, and you’ll only worsen the problem. Block it, and it will find another way. Do nothing and it will do the same thing every damn time.

I’d pay msrp for the AWD coupe hinted at in the image! Totally my dream car!

Give me an AWD Mini with Group B style acceleration and the JCW GP Works concept body and I will as happy as a pig in the proverbial.

This your “every single BMW EV article ever” reminder that this tech will not be in the EV Mini, which will use the current i3 drivetrain and battery technology.

Quit referring to battery capacity in terms of Ah. It makes no sense. It’s stupid. Stop. Stating 120 Ah without stating voltage is meaningless.

It makes sense for an i3 because its current battery packs contain just a single string of 96 series-connected cells with all packs having the same nominal output voltage. Multiplying this electric charge (Ah) by the nominal output voltage, 360 V, is the battery pack’s energy in Wh. So comparing the capacities of various i3 battery pack generations is just as valid using Ah as kWh.

It even makes some sense in general because the nominal output voltages of battery packs in most EV’s are very close so that they can be charged by the same DC fast chargers. This will change with Porsche’s introduction of 720 V battery packs. Other manufacturers will almost certainly follow.

Amperes mean nothing if you don’t state the voltage. That’s why watts exists.

That’s for DC! With AC, you need to use RMS Values!

Oh that’s pedantic crap. Most people’s attention span is longer than 8.33 milliseconds. And with the EURO PFC > 0,99 requirement there is essentially no difference between the apparent power used and the actual power – so using a Direct Current analogy is fine.

Most of the energy storage batteries I’ve seen lately happen to be direct current, as are most Solar Panels.

Some strong words mr. Jurassic. Let’s hope he’s not as fossil as his name sounds. BMW still has a lot of work to do and surely must beat Merc and Audi because they did not deliver The EV benchmark-killers they said they would.

I hope that high drive train integration does not preclude the replacement of individual components within this integrated unit. Electronic modules, in general, aren’t repairable and tend to be very expensive to purchase. If something breaks within this integrated unit, I hope the entire unit won’t have to be replaced. That would be prohibitively expensive.

The video showed different numbers of battery cells in a battery pack module and different numbers of modules in a battery pack. That would seem to be practical only if cells and modules were connected in various combinations of series and parallel connections to maintain the same nominal output voltage with different pack capacities so the same electronics would be usable with various battery pack capacities. BMW doesn’t do this now, but Tesla does.

Tesla’s use of thousands of small battery cells seems more expensive and heavier than necessary. If BMW could instead use hundreds of battery cells smaller that its current cells but larger than Tesla’s cells, it should be able to offer battery packs of various capacities using the same cells and electronics.

Not really, by using smaller cells, the cells can be more energy dense and allow for higher voltage.

In the long run, the larger cells might be cheaper overall, but it’ll be over a decade and by then there might be other alternatives or chemistries.

“…. by using smaller cells.. and allow for higher voltage.”

Hmmm, how much do you know about electrochemical cells?

“Tesla’s use of thousands of small battery cells seems more expensive and heavier than necessary.”

Then why are Tesla’s battery costs per kWh lower than any other auto maker’s?

Tesla could use something similar to the LG Chem pouch cells which GM uses for the Volt and the Bolt EV, but then — like GM — Tesla would have to glue each individual cell into a stiff frame so the flexible cells wouldn’t move around inside the pack.

How would that be an advantage? Putting a cylindrical metal “can” (case) around each cell may make Tesla’s battery cells a bit heavier, but it certainly makes assembly simpler and less expensive.

5th generation? Is that how many times they have to design the thing until it works? This would mean much more to me if BMW could get its cost down and its reliability up.

Hopefully the cells have half a chance at being reliable since they buy them from someone else.

So, they are integrating motor, gearbox, and power electronics into the same package/casing? Looks like they have caught up to where Tesla was 6 years ago….

The picture with the guys spreading thermal paste from a cup – I hope that is not the final production setup.

As written, the production has not started, so why on earth do you think that any of the pictures are from the production line?

By the way, as stated else where, some frpmBMW said that it is only with this 5:th generation drive train might the production be profitable

“…the crucial advantage of the upcoming fifth-generation drive system is high integration of electric motor, transmission and power electronics into single component.”

I don’t know if it’s more sad or amusing that those lagging years behind in the EV revolution keep trying to describe their rather belated attempts to catch up with where Tesla was years ago, as playing “a pioneering role”.

Of course, Tesla has been putting integrated drive units into its cars since it first started selling the Model S in 2008. But it seems that BMW’s marketing department has no problem pretending BMW is leading instead of following.

Correction: Tesla started making and selling the Model S in 2012, not 2008. (I had a brain jam, I guess… 😉 )

You got “Roadstered!”, I guess! That’s when Tesla started selling the Roadster!

Have been driving (and loving) my 2018 i3s since April. My neighbor has a Model 3 RWD and no question it is a far more compelling car, I just didn’t need the range as I use it for daily driving which never exceeds 100 miles in a day. I also wanted something smaller and the higher seating position is a huge plus. Will order the 2019 i3s in January and then sell the 2018 i3s when I get my Rivian SUV in 2020 (hopefully). Deposit paid, should be amazing! Will keep the 2019 i3s for short hops around town.

I’m a fan of Rivian as well. I wonder if you’d like the higher statue of the Model Y.

What intrigues me the most is the mentioned DC/DC charger unit. That implies 800V batteries and optimizing the charging power delivery regardless of the battery SoC/voltage.

BMW is getting closer to the Tesla design. But Tesla is moving on with the Roadster II Super Car in 202 with numbers never seen in any car, 600+ range, 0-6 1.8 seconds etc etc etc

Not one question asked, nor one mention made about the use of CFRP in the future plan?

What about Mini BEV? That is going to be the volume seller, at least in Europe.

Juraschek, stop irritating people with your nonsense. You and others should be fired from BMW. They in BMW live in a corporate bubble, virtual reality. Such a nonsense with “pioneering” terms. They with purpose tried to steer away people from EVs with extremely low range BMW i3 sold at high price, for many many years. Their car was a useless toy for city driving. Home-work-home, nothing else. Not worth high price. Beside that, it was super ugly box.