BMW to Use Round Cell Battery Tech by 2025

BMW is to deploy new round battery cells to use in battery packs for its Neue Klasse BEV models from 2025.

The automaker, which signed a supply agreement for the batteries with China’s CATL manufacturer earlier this year, says it is convinced that powerful, innovative, sustainably-produced battery cells will be key to the success of individual electromobility in the future.

It claims that the round cell technology will help it increase the range of the highest-range model by up to 30% on the WLTP rating.

These will come with a standard diameter of 46mm (1.8ins) and two different heights. Compared to the previous prismatic cells of the fifth BMW battery cell generation, the nickel content in the sixth-generation BMW round cells is higher on the cathode side, while the cobalt content is reduced. On the anode side, the silicon content will be increased. As a result, the cell’s volumetric energy density will improve by more than 20%.

The battery system plays a key role in the body structure of the Neue Klasse. Depending on the model, it can be flexibly integrated into the installation space to save space. The cell module level is thus eliminated. The battery, drive train and charging technology in the new BEVs will also have a higher voltage of 800 volts. This should improve how energy is supplied to direct current high-power charging stations, which can achieve a much higher charging capacity with a current of up to 500 amperes, so reducing the time it takes to charge the vehicle from 10% to 80% by up to 30%.

BMW says it is focused on the use of only green power from renewable energies in production of batteries and hopes to reduce the carbon footprint of battery cell production by up to 60%, compared to the current generation of battery cells. Reuse of raw materials will be one of the success factors for e-mobility in the future. Circular loops reduce the need for new raw materials, lower the risk of infringing environmental and social standards in the supply chain and generally result in significantly lower CO2 emissions on the way to its long-term goal to use fully recyclable battery cells. In China, the company is currently creating a closed loop for reuse of the raw materials nickel, lithium and cobalt from high-voltage batteries, thus laying the cornerstone of a ground-breaking material cycle.

Frank Weber, member of the board of management of BMW responsible for development, said: “The newly-developed sixth generation of our lithium-ion cells will bring a huge leap in technology that will increase energy density by more than 20%, improve charging speed by up to 30 percent and enhance range by up to 30%. We are also reducing CO2 emissions from cell production by up to 60%. These are big steps for sustainability and customer benefits.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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