BMW Remains Committed To Samsung SDI


BMWBLOG is reporting that just a few weeks ago, BMW’s former research and development chief, Herbert Diess (presently CEO at Volkswagen), announced that German automakers should look into producing their own battery cells either in house or at a battery facility to be constructed in Germany.

Following this announcement, BMW re-affirmed that it’s fully committed to sourcing its battery cells from South Korean supplier Samsung SDI.

As BMWBLOG reports:

“Through a spokesperson, BMW has once again confirmed its partnership with Samsung and dismissed any claims made by the German media. BMW believes the Samsung battery packs are the best technology for BMW today, therefore there are no plans to change the supplier.”

Which would rule out LG Chem as a supplier then too, despite the widespread belief that LG Chem is the world leader in battery technology.

Category: BMW


31 responses to "BMW Remains Committed To Samsung SDI"
  1. jerryd says:

    I hope they can supply batteries at the same prices as LG, Tesla can or BMW is at a serious disadvantage.
    But then their other EV design solutions have been done rather badly like the i3 weight, old tech and heavy
    REX, etc.
    Not sure how LG can be the world leader when Tesla beats it on all counts especially power and most important, cost.

    1. Michael Parker says:

      Wait, what? I didn’t know the i3 had a weight problem…. even in REx form isn’t it several hundred pounds lighter than a Leaf?

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Yes, the BMW i3 is the hands-down winner in the weight department, for moderately long-range BEVs, mostly due to its innovative carbon fiber composite body. That has enabled it to also be the efficiency winner, in terms of miles per kWh in a car large enough to carry 4+ people at highway speed.

        Perhaps jerryd is getting the i3 mixed up with some other car?

        1. jerryd says:

          No I’m not getting it mixed up. BMW put a large heavy metal frame under the CF body it didn’t need.
          They should have used the body as the frame as any CF body that can handle crash testing can handle road loads just bolting the suspension, etc to it.
          And why are similar size steel, subcompacts, cars 2-300lbs lighter?
          If you can’t be lighter than a steel car, what is the point of CF, it’s cost?
          It’ll be interesting to see the Bolt’s weight in January.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            jerryd said:

            “BMW put a large heavy metal frame under the CF body it didn’t need.”

            Or maybe BMW put a lightweight aluminum frame under the CF body; a frame that it did need.

            Details here:

            “And why are similar size steel, subcompacts, cars 2-300lbs lighter?”

            Because gasmobiles don’t have a heavy battery pack. Every BEV with a good range is heavier than a similarly sized gasmobile. But the i3 cuts down on how much heavier it is, by quite a bit, by using a carbon fiber composite body.

      2. Tech01x says:

        The i3’s current battery pack has a gravimetric energy density of only 95 Wh/kg. A Tesla Model S from 2012 had 156 Wh/kg.

        To compete with the next generations of BEVs for distance, Samsung SDI has to keep up with everyone else. I suspect they will keep abreast of the NMC chemistries used by LG, but we’ll see how they fare against Tesla’s offerings.

        1. Meh says:

          You, and just about every other person, discount the engineering trades associated with different battery technologies. It’s not as simple as picking the battery with the highest energy density.

          If BMW (or Nissan or Chevy or Ford or any car manufacturer) wanted to, they could have used 186550 cells. That is an old form factor that is known to offer high energy densities… however, at significant other robustness trade-offs. There is nothing special about the Tesla battery cells or packs. Period.

          No one manufacturer of cells, LG, Panasonic, or Samsung has a significant technological advantage over the other. Physics is physics.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            Meh said:

            “No one manufacturer of cells, LG, Panasonic, or Samsung has a significant technological advantage over the other. Physics is physics.”

            That may have been more or less true a couple of years ago, but it certainly isn’t true now. There are a lot of companies clamoring for LG Chem’s new, cheaper-per-kWh cells.

            Physics is physics? Yes, but battery tech is very far from reaching the limits imposed by physics. Until that happens, breakthroughs in battery cell manufacturing — and cheaper manufacturing techniques — are possible. The existence of physics does not make patents irrelevant.

        2. PureElectricPower says:

          BMW is doing good profit with cheap batteries and some aluminium in i3 with price above 43000$ for 80 electric miles. That’s joke, right. And after all BMW i3 is the ugliest car of 21st century.

      3. jerryd says:

        The Leaf is a 5 seat sedan vs the i3 is a small 4 seat subcompact that multiple steel cars the same size are lighter than it by 2-300lbs.
        The REX should weigh at most 150lbs yet it weighs 360lbs. Lotus built a RE the same power in 115lbs.
        A decent CF 4 seat subcompact shouldn’t weigh more than 1400lbs including 100 miles of battery.
        Examples the Toyota 1/x, the GM UltraLite, even BMW’s and others Vision.M
        Otherwise what is the point of CF? Yet it weighs 2600-2900lbs.
        Not only would it weigh 40% less but cost 40% less if they designed it right.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          jerryd said:

          “The REX should weigh at most 150lbs yet it weighs 360lbs.”

          You think you can add a two-cylinder scooter/motorcycle engine, a gas tank, and all the kludges necessary to engineer the engine to drive a car rather than a motorcycle (radiator, water jacket, water pump, oil pump, fuel pump, fan, exhaust system, muffler, etc. etc.) and do it all for only 150 lbs?

          Heaven save us from arm-chair car designers.

          At least the range extender for the BMW i3 REx doesn’t need its own transmission, or at least I think not.

          1. 3laine says:

            This guy is actually “FreedomEV”. He makes all these ridiculous claims every time the i3 is brought up, like the above claims that there are comparable steel cars that weigh 200-300 lb less, or that it should actually weigh only 1400 lb. I’ve responded in the past with examples as to why both of those claims are ridiculous and/or false, but he never actually responds with anything but baseless claims or “keep believing that” or some other useless reply.

    2. evcarnut says:

      BMW is already At a disadvantage Because Their cars are SOOOoooo $$$ 0verpriced $$$ & 0nly because they Are “BMW’s”..Nothing better 0r more special than the competition , Infact they are Inferrior…0nly that little Logo & customer Loyalty keeps them going..BMW lets See Something New & Innovative & Prove Yourselves ,& Stop! living off your laurels!.

      1. Bret says:

        I disagree. BMW has produced a reasonably priced EV, considering it’s advanced aluminum frame and CFRP construction. Yes, it costs more than a steel converted ICE vehicle, like the Golf, 500 or Focus. But, it costs half as much as an aluminum framed Tesla.

        Where the i3 is lacking is in it’s small battery and lack of range. If they upgrade to the new 94 Amp hour Samsung batteries and extend the range to 125 miles, it will be a better value proposition. Unfortunately, by the time they do that, the Volt and Model 3 will have 200 miles of AER.

        I don’t think the i3 will sell well against those models, but competition and diversity are always good for consumers.

  2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    “…German automakers should look into producing their own battery cells…”

    Yes, and not only German auto makers. Every auto maker that is serious about building EVs needs to take control of its own battery supply. Relying on a third party to supply batteries makes no more sense for high-volume PEV production than it would for a legacy gasmobile maker to rely on another company to make ICEngines for their best-selling cars.

    It’s okay for Daimler to contract with Tesla to supply a relatively small number of battery packs for a compliance car, or for GM to contract with LG Chem for the same, for the Spark EV. But if auto makers want to get serious about making long-range plug-in EVs in large numbers, then they need to control their own battery supply.

    So far, only Nissan and Tesla have moved to build their own battery factories; Nissan has partnered with NEC, and Tesla has partnered with Panasonic to build these factories.

    We’ll know that other auto makers are serious about building long-range EVs if and when they do the same. GM contracting with LG Chem as a third-party supplier for the Bolt… doesn’t cut it. I expect the Bolt to be produced in only moderate numbers, for that very reason.

    1. Kaiser says:

      Manufacturers need guaranteed supply, but that can be achieved via contracts–it’s not necessary to own the production in all cases. Some auto manufacturers even shared engines in the distant past. Most parts of a car are outsourced to suppliers.

      Tesla cannot contract battery supply because their credit rating is junk. Other manufacturers have more ability to cajole suppliers into commitments.

      ICE engines are hard to manufacture and are a key differentiator. It’s not clear yet if batteries will go this route, or take the path the simple tire–which no manufacturer makes themselves, because it’s a commodity that gets cheaper with volume.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Kaiser said:

        “Manufacturers need guaranteed supply, but that can be achieved via contracts–it’s not necessary to own the production in all cases.”

        True. The trick is knowing what can be successfully and reliably sourced from third parties… and what can’t.

        “Some auto manufacturers even shared engines in the distant past.”

        I’m aware of that. But — and please do correct me if I’m wrong here — no major auto maker has ever depended on a rival to make engines for its core, best-selling models. In fact, they would be foolish to do so.

        “Most parts of a car are outsourced to suppliers.”

        Sure, but most of those suppliers are small companies whose income is almost wholly dependent on one or maybe two large auto manufacturers. This is the manufacturing equivalent of sharecropping; the big company holds all the negotiating power, the small company none. The big company can always switch to another supplier, with only a delay in production, but in may or most cases that switch will put a small supplier out of business.

        That doesn’t apply to large battery manufacturers, with the possible exception of the Tesla-Panasonic relationship. Large battery manufacturers have other markets, most notably the consumer electronics market. None except Panasonic is dependent on EV makers for business.

        “Tesla cannot contract battery supply because their credit rating is junk.”

        Are you serious? I think you’ve been reading too many Tesla bashing posts.

        “Other manufacturers have more ability to cajole suppliers into commitments.”

        I’m sure that will come as a great surprise to both Tesla Motors and to Panasonic. 😉 Panasonic has ramped up its battery cell production to be the #1 world-wide battery cell maker, and most of their supply goes to Tesla. In fact, Tesla has had to cajole, strong-arm, and even threaten Panasonic into ramping up battery production in a (not entirely successful) effort to meet Tesla’s demand.

        “ICE engines are hard to manufacture and are a key differentiator. It’s not clear yet if batteries will go this route…”

        I think it’s already very clear that makers of BEVs and long-range PHEVs are going to compete on the ability of their battery packs. In fact, they already are. Remember the debacle of premature Leaf battery pack fade in Phoenix and other very hot areas?

        Nissan and Tesla both have had restraints, sometimes severe restraints, on their production of BEVs because the company they contracted with to supply their batteries couldn’t make them fast enough. Both Nissan and Tesla have moved to build battery factories specifically to supply their BEVs.

        I think it’s almost certain that other auto makers will follow suit. It’s not a matter of choice, but necessity, if they want to significantly ramp up production. Why do you think Tesla is investing billions of dollars building Gigafactory 1? Again, that’s not a choice, but rather necessity.

        “…or take the path the simple tire–which no manufacturer makes themselves, because it’s a commodity that gets cheaper with volume.”

        Well, I agree that battery manufacturing needs to remain separate as far as factories go. Both tires and batteries are specialty item requiring specialty manufacturing techniques and machines; certainly not the “simple tire” as you mis-characterize it.

        But claiming that BEV manufacturers will outsource their batteries because it’s like outsourcing tires is as silly as claiming it’s like gasmobile manufacturers outsourcing the car’s gasoline supply.

        Cars have standardized parts to accept tires from different manufacturers, just as they have standardized gasoline tanks and fill pipes to allow the car to fill up at any gas station. Contrariwise, battery packs are not at all standardized. In fact, the characteristics of the cells must be carefully chosen to match the car, in terms of power density, energy density, and tolerance for temperature extremes… in addition to other characteristics, most notably cost.

  3. David Murray says:

    I just hope Samsung can produce cells to match the new energy density that LG is doing for General Motors and Nissan is doing for the new Leaf.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Nissan, and its battery making subsidiary AESC, are probably a beneficiary of the tech-sharing deal between Daimler and LG Chem, because Nissan is Daimler’s partner.

      If Samsung wants to do what AESC has done, by (apparently) licensing LG Chem’s “recipe” for cheaper battery cells, then it will have to make a deal with LG Chem. Since Samsung is a direct competitor, this seems unlikely. But sooner or later, other battery makers will reverse engineer and/or use industrial espionage to steal LG Chem’s recipe, and offer more-or-less competitive cells.

  4. Gamer says:

    BMW committed to Samsung only for PEV n BEV.
    For mHEV, BMW will use cells from Samsung’s rival.

  5. jh says:

    In what way would LG be a leader? They barely matches teslas/panasonics energy density, and they produce nowhere nears as many cells either?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      LG Chem is adding customers faster than they can increase production capacity, due to their new, cheaper-per-kWh “recipe” for li-ion cells.

      It’s true that LG Chem is currently the #3 producer of li-ion EV batteries, but expect it to take the #2 spot within the next year. Announced plans for expansion over the next five years look like LG Chem will be growing to a size to rival Panasonic, even with the Tesla/Panasonic battery Gigafactory 1 project. And with LG Chem continuing to add customers, it may be that their expansion will be even faster than previously planned.

  6. Heisenberght says:

    Once again I claim that there

    1. Heisenberght says:

      Oops… I meant : there is no need for a leader / winner /monopoly but there is need for competition. The big 3-4 battery manufacturers shall fight for their share on the demand that car companies will provide. That does not outrule partnerships at different levels / degrees.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        The market for li-ion batteries in consumer products other than EVs is larger than the current EV market, and it looks like the stationary energy storage market will be even larger.

        As PEV manufacturing ramps up, I expect EV manufacturers to turn increasingly to in-house manufacturing… or more precisely, to partner with battery manufacturers to create subsidiary companies manufacturing batteries for their needs. That’s what Nissan has done with NESC, and it’s what Tesla is doing with Gigafactory 1.

        Paying third party manufacturers to supply battery cells for EV compliance cars, and even for EVs made in moderate numbers such as the Volt, may make sense. But if manufacturers of long-range EVs plan to really ramp up volume production, they are going to need to control their own battery supply, to prevent the same sort of bottleneck which previously slowed the growth of production of Nissan’s Leaf and of the Tesla Model S.

  7. SJC says:

    “..should look into producing their own battery cells..”

    I mentioned years ago that the car maker that makes their own cells, batteries, modules and packs would have an obvious advantage.

  8. Anthony says:

    They aren’t going to change suppliers, thats fine. But there is nothing in there aginast setting up a BMW Gigafactory in Germany to produce Samsung (or whomever else’s) batteries.

  9. Bob says:

    If Bolt get 200 miles and BMW i3 mid 2016 only 125 miles than i see problems, except the batterys are very heavy in Bolt. Than you could say ok, heavy Bolt or leight i3.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      The Tesla Model S has a nominal range of 300 miles, and a real-world range rated at 265 miles by the EPA, with a battery pack weighing approx. 1200 lbs. A heavy battery pack certainly won’t prevent EV makers from making nominally 200 mile BEVs… nor even BEVs with 200 miles of real-world range.

      It’s true that other PEV makers are not using cells with as high an energy density (ED) as Tesla, but it’s also true that ED continues to creep up every year. The weight difference between a 150 mile and a 200 mile BEV won’t be any more than the added weight from an extra passenger or two, and that certainly won’t be a show-stopper for any PEV manufacturer.

      With current li-ion battery tech, cost is far more important than weight.

    2. 3laine says:

      The REx can add another ~125 miles of range, though, too, giving a total range over 200 miles.

      I’m not saying that’s what everyone wants, but it’s safe to say *some* people would be more comfortable being able to use gas in the rare cases that 125 miles AER is insufficient. For some people, even, lack of charging options might make even 200 miles AER very inconvenient, but ~120 miles of gas on top of 120 miles AER might work.

      Again, I’m not saying it’s equivalent to the Bolt, but there will be people that prefer each of the two different methods of achieving 200 mile range.

  10. techguy says:

    BMW already have a factory in Germany assembling together Samsung Cells into BMW battery packs. This is done in house