Round battery cells for the Neue Klasse.
Innovation 09.09.2022 5 Min.
Round battery cells for the Neue Klasse.

The BMW Group is taking a major step into the future with the Neue Klasse. Many aspects of electromobility are being rethought – including the battery cell. This determines range, charging time and costs.

The development of the Neue Klasse marks a turning point for the BMW Group. The all-electric models planned from 2025 are making giant strides in the development of electromobility, circularity and digitality. The battery is considered a key success factor for electric vehicles with the initial technical specifications of the batteries for the Neue Klasse showing the scale of the potential of the new development. Frank Weber, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development, reveals the initial details: “The range will improve by up to 30 per cent with the sixth generation of our lithium-ion cells, and the charging speed will be up to 30 per cent quicker. We are also reducing CO2 emissions in cell production by up to 60 per cent and putting the focus on recyclability. These are big steps in terms of sustainability and customer benefit.”

To secure supplies, we will significantly expand its network of battery cell factories worldwide. “We will work with our partners to satisfy our long-term needs by building battery cell factories with an annual capacity of up to 20 gigawatt hours each at six locations in markets that are important to us: two in China, two in Europe and two in the North American Free Trade Area. In addition, for CO2-reduced production, we have agreed with our partners that they will use a specified proportion of secondary materials for the raw materials lithium, cobalt and nickel and use green electricity in production,” comments Joachim Post, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Purchasing and Supplier Network.

New format for the Neue Klasse.

Round cells are being used for the first time in the sixth generation of electric mobility batteries from the BMW Group. With a diameter of 46 millimetres and two different heights of 95 and 120 millimetres, the new cells are a perfect match for the completely redesigned and exclusively all-electric Neue Klasse architecture. The storage system takes on a supporting role in the body structure and, depending on the model, can be integrated flexibly and in a space-saving manner in the installation space. Only recently, Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, announced the 2025 launch: “We are planning a compact saloon in the 3 Series segment and a sporty SUV. By the end of the decade, the Neue Klasse is expected to already account for more than half of our global sales.”

As well as the new design and the changed format of the cells, the Neue Klasse energy storage units also have an increased voltage of 800 volts. One of the benefits is that this higher voltage speeds up the recharging of energy at DC fast charging stations. The current strength of up to 500 amps in these reduces by about 30 per cent the time needed to charge from 10 to 80 per cent.

New dimension for CO2-reduced production and the use of secondary material.

With the new battery cells, we are already significantly minimising the CO2 footprint in the supply chain. Cell manufacturers will use cobalt, lithium and nickel for the production of battery cells, which will consist of a specified proportion of secondary material – i.e. raw materials that are not newly mined but recovered through a cycle. At the same time, they have an obligation to use only green electricity from renewable sources in production of the battery cells. This means the BMW Group is reducing the CO2 footprint in the new battery cell production by up to 60 per cent compared to the current generation.

The BMW Group sees the success of e-mobility in the future as being inextricably linked to the extensive reuse of raw materials. Circular loops reduce the need for new raw materials, reduce the risk of violating environmental and social standards in the supply chain and usually result in significantly lower CO2 emissions. The long-term goal of the BMW Group remains to use a fully recyclable battery cell. The company is currently setting up a closed cycle in China to reuse nickel, lithium and cobalt raw materials from high-voltage batteries, which lays the foundation for a future materials cycle.

Development of future battery cells through BMW expertise.

The BMW Group has been consistently building up its expertise in the field of battery cell technology since 2008. This expertise has been pooled at the BMW Group Battery Cell Centre of Excellence in Munich since 2019. The centre covers the entire value chain from research and development to battery cell design and manufacturability. The BMW Group uses a network of around 300 partners so that innovations in the field of battery cell technology can be put into practice quickly and efficiently. These partners include established companies, start-ups and universities.

In future, the knowledge gained in this way will be secured in the new centre of excellence for battery cell production in Parsdorf near Munich. Commissioning of the near-series production of samples of the future battery cell generation will start there at the end of 2022. They are destined to be used in the Neue Klasse from 2025. The pilot line in Parsdorf makes it possible to analyse and understand the production process of the cell under near-series conditions. This allows production of battery cells to be further refined in terms of quality, performance and costs.

The new battery cell technology, with its greatly increased performance, significantly reduced CO2 footprint, improved cost structure and CO2-reduced production, underlines the status of the BMW Group as a leader in electromobility.

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