BMW Claims New, Radical Battery Technology Coming … In 2026

FEB 22 2017 BY MARK KANE 39

BMW i8

BMW expects that around 2026 it will be able to introduce radically improved batteries – of the solid-state variety, which differ from the conventional lithium-ion cells of today by having solid electrolyte in place of liquid electrolytes.

There is still apparently some 10 more years needed to finish research and test durability prior to commercialization (holy cats!), which naturally gives us a healthy dose of skepticism.

The 2017 BMW i3 gets an upgraded 33.4 kWh battery, good for 114 miles of range

According to the article, new solid-state batteries to have many advantages:

  • 15-20% increase in capacity
  • less weight
  • reduction in the amount of safety protection needed due to the reduced fire risk
  • the packaging and housing of the batteries to be simplified

In other words, new solid-state batteries will allow more energy in unit of weight.

With all that said, and to take nothing away from the 15-20% gain in capacity – which sounds great, almost no one looking for a new plug-in vehicle has uttered the statement “man, I wish these batteries were just a touch denser,” generally the consensus is that consumers just want their EVs cheaper and to go further, and if that means adding an extra 100lbs, or stealing an extra cu ft or two under the floorboards…then so be it.

Before we live to see any solid-state batteries, around 2018 BMW is expected to upgrade current battery technology for its upcoming all-electric MINI and BMW X3.

source: Autocar

Categories: Battery Tech, BMW


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39 Comments on "BMW Claims New, Radical Battery Technology Coming … In 2026"

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I think any reasonably skilled driver who has thrown a Model S into a tight corner has wished for denser batteries (or at least less weight). Tesla did just about everything right within the limits of the tech with the S, but there’s only so much you can do to make a 4900 lb sedan feel nimble.

BMW wants to preserve the agile handling that’s the foundation of their brand identity. (“Ultimate Driving Machine,” etc.) That’s much easier to do with a midsize sedan that weighs 4000 lb vs 5000, and even easier if you can get it down to 3500.

I’m someone of reasonable skill who has cornered hard in my Model S, and it seems to me you are wrong about this. The Model S does not weigh substantially more than a BMW 7 series (or Merc Class S, or Audi 8 or Lexus 460). Those are heavy cars comparable in every way (except energy consumption and carbon emissions) with a Model S. Comparisons with a BMW 3 series would be necessary at a 3500 lb target weight, which I expect the Model 3 to achieve.

This is true when you compare curb weights. The Model S uses an all aluminum frame which saves weight as well as the net weight loss of the smaller lighter motors minus the v-8 or v-6 engine, gas tank, multi gear transmission, etc. Merc and BMW are starting to use more aluminum but still use mostly high strength steel.

Once you add the heavy battery pack back in it comes out to about the same but with a lower center of gravity.

For now this will be fine for the performance full size and mid sized sedans but won’t work as well for smaller sports cars which are low volume segment anyway. At some point energy density will improve enough that this segment will reach parity in weight as well.

I recall reading a slalom test of the model S vs a Panamera (non hybrid). I can’t remember the battery size on the S but the curb weight was listed as 4700 lbs or some 400 lbs more than the Panamera. The slalom times were identical altnough the tester preferred the overall feel of the Porsche, which is just fair to that experienced sports car maker.

John, With all due respect, my old Passat wagon was 3,200lbs, Miata ~2100, i3 2,600. Most older 911’s ~3200.

Over the past decade, or so, 3,600-3,800 (BMW M3, Audi S5) and then 4,000, and then 4,500-5,000 pound German sedans have become much more “nimble’s” enemy. The ~4,900lb Porsche Panamera hybrid (w/just ~15-18KWh) is another example. So, in its class, the Model S is close to competitors weight. With a gravity center as low as Ford’s GT40, and having tracked lots of miles in lots of cars, myself, I’d actually give Model S the knod for the street. I’d find it hard to go back to even a 3,800lb, front engine mounted sedan after owning one. Because I know understeer and roll would all show up again.

I find it hard to believe it would only be a 15-20% increase in capacity from today’s batteries. Now.. if maybe they meant that in 2026 these will come out and have 15-20% more capacity than the batteries they are using in 2025…I guess I could believe that.

They’re talking about use of solid-state batteries and saying that they’ll be 15-20% denser by volume, lighter, safer and simpler than current lithium-ion.

I think that having comparable pricing is assumed.

Those are the most conservative numbers I’ve seen for solid state batteries. Developers are of course attracting investors but the numbers from them are in the 40% more capacity range. So when ready for prime time the battery packs will be either 40% smaller with the same range or the range will increase 40% or the packs can be modular and save vehicle weight for city and pop in a second range extender pack for road trips.

The future will be just like the past, only electric. Breathe, and repeat. Very reassuring, isn’t it?

Good luck.. but if I had a dollar for every time I heard something was “just 10 years away”.

I agree , Talk is Cheap. There’s Plenty of Hot Air out there!

If I had a dollar for every time something was only TWO years away…

Took me the whole of 5 seconds to open the link and come to the conclusion that the article is basically empty.

What is there to even discuss ? Just some vaporware from marketing dept.

Kodak could have probably made something that was 20% better than the original iPhone by 2017, too.

I forecast that BMW is bankrupt within 3 years. They don’t have the margins to withstand the number of sales that Tesla is stealing from them with the Model 3.

I’m sure BMW will be fine. Forbes just listed BMW as the top respected automotive brand.

Kodak was !

They don’t have an acurate crystal ball, it seems.
15-20% improvement in about 10 years? That sounds like ICE technology!
Or maybe they mean future improvement for lead-acid batteries for their poisoning gas cars…

The future I3 will have 34,5 kWh in 2026!!!
That’s 15% more than today.

LOL. “holy cats!”. What happened to cows? But I like cats better anyway.

Every impractical technology is only 5 to 10 years away, perpetually. Unless there’s a plan for production now and in market within 2 years, it’s just vapor. By 2026, even better things may come along and could make solid state (or whatever they plan) obsolete.

“generally the consensus is that consumers just want their EVs cheaper, and if that means adding an extra 100lbs, or stealing an extra cu ft or two under the floorboards…then so be it.”

It’s more than an “extra 100lbs”. I believe the weight of the Tesla pack is only 50% from the cells. If solid electrolyte cells don’t need cooling, protection from puncture, individual monitoring, etc, etc… any gains in actually cell level capacity is just icing. The big win would be the reduction in non-cell weight.

Cells are expensive to make not because of materials but because of time. And the biggest impediment to speeding things up is the need to use liquids.

Solid state offers the promise of something much easier to manufacture – quickly and in huge volumes – and hence of cheap battery packs for all.

Energy and power density isn’t solid state’s strong point, but its sufficient, and then being better at pretty much everything else, including cost, goes a long way.

I think BMW way underestimates the tech progress. I expect batteries to be far more than 15-20% better in 2026. Maybe they forgot a 0 at the end of that estimate?

Unlike many other companies, BMW is actually very conservative when it comes to HP, 0-60 times, and the EPA range rating of the current i3. They are not the type of company to try and shock and awe with future estimations. In fact, they are usually pretty tight lipped about upcoming product development.

10 years from now 50%+ of today’s traditional car makers will have either gone out of business or merged with another car maker. Those then remaining traditional car makers will be working very hard to slow down continued loss of market share to the pure EV upstarts…in particular Tesla.

For traditional car makers, the benefit of legacy captured market share is canceled out by the corresponding liability of organizational legacy drag. That is the primary reason why the Tesla Model S today is outselling BMW in the large luxury sedan segment and why Tesla within next 10 years has a real shot doning the same in mid size luxary.

So it’s fine that BMW is today projecting that battery chemistry will improve by the next decade so long as BMW is TODAY going after the EV segment with the sense of urgency that their future literally depends on it.

Lighter batteries is good for cars of course but even more interesting is that lighter and more dense batteries opens up long haul trucks, ships and eventually electric airplanes!

But will it be better than the mass-produced hydrogen fuel cells that will be coming in 2025?

let me laugh

The solid polymer battery is already here, see here.

That solid state battery looks very promising. Didn’t someone try to destroy a Nissan Leaf battery? I seem to recall that didn’t catch fire even though it was punctured, torched and treated pretty rough. Maybe they degrade, but they don’t seem to catch fire, ha ha.


Ya in a decade for sure LOLOLOLOL

Any prediction of some new technology thing 10 years away is just garbage. It is nothing but a guess. That’s just not the way science works.

Things can take 10 years to build . . . but you can’t forecast innovation like that. I’m not saying it won’t happen . . . it might. But if this ‘forecast’ turned out to be right, it was just a lucky guess.

I wonder how many people are helping out a company like Ionic Materials to make better batteries a reality.

There is a joint veture between bosch, yuasa and mitsubishi that bought a solid state battery start up intending to commercialise a battery with 50% weight, cost and double the power by 2020.

There has been a car in production for some time with this technology! It’s called the Bollore Bluecar and is in use as a ride sharing platform in Indianapolis (BlueIndy) and other places. It uses solid state polymer lithium batteries. So this tech is not new at all.

Yeah, solid state batteries have been right around the corner for a long time now. I seriously had someone make business plans based upon it being ready in 2 years. And that was about 7 years ago.

It’s taken about 10yrs to double the energy density, so a prediction to double again in 10yrs is pretty well established by many. This article appears to indicate that BMW is actually working on something that they think will take 10yrs to commercialise. Maybe they are being super conservative and doing a real 10yr test (what a waste of time) to make sure they don’t have another Nissan experience, or maybe it is vapour, time will tell.
There is undoubtedly more research happening in the battery space than ever before, so it is easy to see that battery density, weight, size and cost will all improve significantly in 10yrs, anyone can say that. Solid state batteries are also a huge goal, but whatever the final solution I am sure it will be vastly improved over what we have now.

Solid state batteries exist already in quite a few cars that are driven everyday in Indianapolis’ BlueIndy ride sharing service. Nothing new.

EEStor Corporation – 2017 TSX Venture 50

Solid-state battery chem is in the Paris autolib car share by Bollore too. (Was the first commercial use in the world followed by bluindy usa)