We've said it all plenty of times before, and we'll say it again and again. Cars are hard. EVs are arguably harder, at least initially. And, perhaps most importantly, new successful battery tech is incredibly difficult, especially when we're talking about solid-state batteries.
For years, many companies have been talking about "battery breakthroughs." However, nothing has really broken through, and timelines continue to be delayed. This it not to say that updated battery cell chemistries haven't advanced battery safety, capacity, energy density, and, most importantly in the EV world, range and performance. Prices have come down as well.
With that said, we're still waiting on major, groundbreaking, industry-changing, "all-new" battery advancements. More specifically, solid-state batteries that are actually suitable for automotive use. They're reportedly coming, but it doesn't seem like they'll be here any time soon, and many of the companies touting them have either taken a new direction, or aren't yet ready to announce anything earth-shattering in the near-term.
This seems to apply to BMW, though it appears recent headlines paint an unrealisitc picture. You may have seen the news, "BMW promises solid-state battery by 2025." However, there's nothing in the headline that suggests whether or not those batteries will be usable in car. Solid-state battery tech already exists today, and it has been proven to work, though it's not yet ready for widespread use in the automotive world.
Reading further into recent coverage about BMW's plans makes it clear that the automaker hopes to have solid-state battery tech ready for use in passenger cars by the end of the decade. We're talking about 10 years from now, not four or five. However, BMW did also reveal that it plans to have a "demonstrator" car with solid-state batteries by 2025.
It will be interesting to learn what's in store for the test car. If it works as advertised, why would BMW wait another five years after revealing a car with the tech functionally properly? Perhaps the demonstrator car and related vehicles will undergo years of testing before the cells make their way into road cars. There are still plenty of questions here.
BMW has been touting its future battery tech for some time, but this is the first time it has offered any reference to upcoming timelines for the technology. BMW board member Frank Weber shared:
"The greenest electric car in the world will be a BMW – sustainable from the initial idea to recycling after its use phase. We are developing the battery cell of the future: it will be powerful, safe, cost-effective and recyclable - from material selection to recyclability after the use in the vehicle. All of this will be created in a European value chain.”
If it all works out, solid-state batteries could offer much more range for EVs. According to Autocar, BMW claims its tech could increase vehicle battery energy density by a “mid-double-digit percentage range.” In addition, BMW's goal is to use the new battery tech to help its future EVs reach price parity with gas-powered cars. Finally, the brand is working on recycling related to the upcoming battery tech. Chairman of BMW board Oliver Zipse explained:
"We want to significantly increase the energy density of the cells and reduce the costs of material use and production at the same time. We will also significantly reduce the use of primary material to ensure a truly 'green' battery."
BMW says it will have 12 new all-electric cars available by 2023.