BMW Will Spend $237 Million On Battery Cell Competence Center

13 hours ago by Mark Kane 21

BMW Group has announced a new investment of some €200 million ($237 million) to build a Battery Cell Competence Centre in Munich, Germany.

Visualization of future BMW Group Battery Competence Center. Source: 3dkad architectural visualization, Damyanov

The German manufacturer intends to engage in new cell chemistry and cell design developments, as well as prototype production…in addition to making modules and packs for production vehicles.

BMW expects that its future of vehicles, equipped with next gen battery packs will enable those plug-ins to travel up to 700 km (435 miles) on a single charge, and up to 100 km (62 miles) in the case of plug-in hybrids….which quite honestly doesn’t mean a whole heck of a lot, considering it is mostly just the whim of the OEM that determine the range of a new EV, not any physical size/capability limitation.

The interdisciplinary competence centre will begin operation in early 2019 with 200 employees.

“The battery cell is the heart of the battery. It determines performance, energy content, charging capabilities and lifespan, thereby making a significant contribution to the performance of an electrified vehicle.

In the labs, research and prototyping facilities, which will make up the battery cell competence centre, specialist departments will analyse cell design and cell technology. They will also create prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on the chemical composition of the cells, use of different materials, how the cell behaves in critical or extremely cold conditions, charging and rapid-charging behaviour and evaluating cell sizes and forms. This in-house technological expertise is key to enhancing the battery, thereby enabling higher performance capabilities.

BMW Group: Production of prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on cell chemistry, cell design and build-to-print expertise.

The BMW Group will also gain build-to-print expertise and can then contract out production of battery cells produced to its exact product requirements and specifications. This core competence – which covers the entire value chain from selection of materials, cell design, integration into battery systems, manufacturability and production technologies – gives the company a definite competitive edge, while leveraging cost benefits and economies of scale.

The BMW Group has already completed years of research into battery cells and acquired a high level of evaluation competence, especially through the development of the BMW i models. The company will concentrate know-how from various specialist departments and locations at the new Battery Cell Competence Centre and step up its efforts in this area to achieve faster impact. Research findings will be incorporated directly into the latest battery generation.”

International production network

The BMW Group benefits from a highly flexible production network that can respond quickly to demand for electrified models. All electrified vehicles are integrated into the existing production system.

The company already produces electrified vehicles at ten locations worldwide. The batteries needed for these models come from the three battery factories in Dingolfing, Germany, Spartanburg in the USA and Shenyang, China. The BMW Group plant in Dingolfing plays a leading role within the network as the centre of competence for electric drive systems.”

BMW Group: Production of prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on cell chemistry, cell design and build-to-print expertise.

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, Klaus Fröhlich, member of the BMW AG Board of Management, responsible for Research and Development, said:

“We will be concentrating all our in-house expertise along the battery-cell value chain at our new high-tech competence centre. International experts working in the new development labs and facilities will conduct important research to refine cell chemistry and cell design. We will focus on further improvements in battery performance, lifespan, safety, charging and also costs. We will set the benchmark for the industry.”

Oliver Zipse, member of the BMW AG Board of Management, responsible for Production added:

“By producing battery-cell prototypes, we can analyse and fully understand the cell’s value-creation processes. With this build-to-print expertise, we can enable potential suppliers to produce cells to our specifications. The knowledge we gain is very important to us, regardless of whether we produce the battery cells ourselves, or not.”

BMW Group: Production of prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on cell chemistry, cell design and build-to-print expertise.

BMW Group: Production of prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on cell chemistry, cell design and build-to-print expertise.

BMW Group: Production of prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on cell chemistry, cell design and build-to-print expertise.

BMW Group: Production of prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on cell chemistry, cell design and build-to-print expertise.

Prototype production of future battery modules 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.

Fifth-generation electric drivetrain

BMW Group also presents its developments of the fifth-generation electric drivetrain that integrates electric motor, transmission and power electronics in a single component.

The 5th generation will enter market in 2021 and will be more capable and smaller, as well as cheaper than the current generation.

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).

“Fifth generation of BMW Group electric drivetrains from 2021: electric motor, transmission and power electronics form new 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.

The BMW Group is already developing the fifth generation of its electric drivetrain, for release in 2021, in which interaction between the electric motor, transmission, power electronics and battery have been further optimised.

A decisive advantage of this future electric drive is that the electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a new and separate electric-drive component. With its compact design, this highly integrated new component takes up significantly less space than the three separate components used in previous generations. Its modular concept means that it is also scalable and can be modified for a wide range of different packages and performance levels, increasing flexibility and making it easier to install the new electric drivetrain component in different vehicle derivatives. Integrating the electric motor, transmission and power electronics into a single component uses fewer parts and therefore saves costs.

A further highlight is that the new electric motor does not require the use of rare earths, making the BMW Group no longer dependent on their availability.

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.

The fifth-generation electric drivetrain also uses new, more powerful batteries. Their scalable, modular design means they can be used flexibly in the respective vehicle architecture at different production sites.

Thanks to further development of the battery in particular, the new electric drivetrain extends the range of pure battery-electric vehicles to up to 700 km. In plug-in hybrid models, distances up to 100 kilometres are possible. In this way, the BMW Group continues to expand its innovation leadership in this field.

With the electric motor and battery developed and produced in-house, the BMW Group already possesses a high level of core competence and value creation for electric drivetrains. In-house production gives the BMW Group a decisive competitive advantage, by securing know-how in new technologies, gaining important systems expertise and leveraging cost benefits.

The flexibility of the new electric drivetrain component and upgraded modular battery will continue to ensure the BMW Group’s freedom of action in the future. Thanks to the scalable electric modular systems, from 2020 it will be possible to fit all model series with any drivetrain, according to demand. The fifth-generation electric drivetrain achieves high levels of driving performance and good range with much less weight. It will be integrated into both front- and rear-wheel drive flexible enhanced vehicle architectures, which will also be suitable for all drive forms. This flexibility means the company will be able to meet the predicted demand for several hundred thousand electrified vehicles in 2025.”

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.

Tags: ,

64 responses to "BMW Will Spend $237 Million On Battery Cell Competence Center"

  1. Kdawg says:

    Heh, their version of GM’s Brownstown facilities, just a few years later.

    More the merrier.

    1. Clive says:

      You can bet BMW will do things way beyond GM in every category.

        1. pjwood1 says:

          Because 9.2KWh is close to half the weight of 18.4?

        2. Clive says:

          Because BMW is a premium car maker and GM is not.

          1. Kdawg says:

            LOL, wait, was that not a joke?

          2. jelloslug says:

            So are they also going to open a “Plastic that does not become brittle in 4 years” competence center? How about a “Sagging headliner” competence center?

          3. bogdan says:

            BMW is a premium ICE car maker, to be more precise.
            €200 million investment doesn’t seem like big commitment.
            Think about the gigafactory investment.

  2. Michael Will says:

    So hows that i3 recall coming along

    1. Clive says:

      Ask a 110 pound woman who doesn’t wear her seatbelt.

  3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Yet another example of how legacy auto makers are belatedly following where Tesla has lead. Tesla has had a highly regarded and very sophisticated battery analysis lab for some years. It looks like BMW may be going even a step or two beyond that; I don’t recall anyone claiming that Tesla’s battery testing lab was actually producing prototypes, altho Tesla does have patents related to the internal structure of batteries, so I suppose Tesla has been doing some experimentation along that line.

    1. HVACman says:

      Or belatedly following GM’s lead.

      Biggest in North America. Not only for research. Also builds/tests prototype batteries for new GM EVs in development.

      https://cleantechnica.com/2013/09/17/gm-opens-50000-square-foot-electric-vehicle-battery-laboratory/

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Thanks, HVACman. That certainly helps explain GM’s development of the Volt and the Bolt EV. There has been a lot of argument about how much of the R&D for the Bolt EV was due to LG Chem/LG electronics and how much was due to GM’s expertise. This certainly seems to support the idea that GM contributed to the design of the battery cells it’s using in the Volt and the Bolt EV.

        In this era of increasing factionalism and tribalism, it’s good to be reminded that business partnerships can be a win-win for everyone involved!

  4. HVACman says:

    BMW said their new motors will not use rare earth magnetic material. I wonder if they are going to ferrite like the Gen 2 Volt?

  5. mtefre says:

    The failure to improve the latest BMW i3s range must have been a wake up call. It’s like they’ve just realized it’s going to be a fierce race and only now are putting some real money into research and development.

    1. Five Electrics says:

      It was disappointing to see both BMW and Nissan squander their early progress once they say how small the market was for short range EVs. At least Tesla was able to make lemonade by selling very pricey cars.

  6. Tom says:

    That new all in one drivetrain is really cool. It has the benefits of.

    1. Reduced cost.
    2. Reduced complexity so in principle more reliable.
    3. Reduced weight.
    4. Being as small an all in one, if something does go bad you’d treat that power module as a single part. Unbolt it, take it out, put a different one in, then send the whole unit off for diagnosis and rebuild/repair. This would reduce the amount of equipment and level of expertise needed by BMW service centers as you don’t really need them to fix anything, just be able to swap out. Probably wouldn’t take more than a couple hours to do the swap.

  7. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Clive said:

    “Because BMW is a premium car maker and GM is not.”

    By that argument, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Bugatti, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin, Alfa Romeo, Morgan, and heck even Karma should be building more lavish and well-funded battery R&D laboratory/factories!

    Hmmmm… no, it doesn’t work that way. The question is just how much money the various companies have access to, and how much they are willing to spend, on building such R&D facilities.

    GM certainly has deeper pockets than most! What GM seems to be lacking, at least so far, is the will to spend its resources on building compelling, best-selling plug-in EVs. But then, I don’t see BMW doing any better.

    1. Clive says:

      BMW is committed and currently offers more plugins than GM.

      And GM better get cracking while they still have all their dough.

  8. Mister G says:

    JOBS JOBS JOBS

  9. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    The BMW press release said:

    “A decisive advantage of this future electric drive is that the electric motor, transmission and power electronics are combined in a new and separate electric-drive component. With its compact design, this highly integrated new component takes up significantly less space than the three separate components used in previous generations. Its modular concept…”

    …sounds very much like the “drive unit” module which Tesla puts in its current cars. So I, for one, am not impressed by a legacy auto maker once again following where Tesla is leading, and presenting this as if it’s an innovation.

    I note that Europeans and Americans reverse the meanings of “transmission” and “gearbox”, so I think what this PR calls a “transmission” is just the fixed-ratio reduction gear gearbox found in almost all modern production EVs.

Leave a Reply