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BMW’s Electric Drive: Closing the Gap with Confidence

In the race for dominance in the electric vehicle (EV) market, BMW is making bold strides forward. Milan Nedeljkovic, BMW Group’s production head, recently asserted that there’s no gap to close with Tesla, showcasing the company’s confidence in its new cylindrical-type battery cells. These cutting-edge cells, produced at BMW’s facility near Munich, Germany, mark a significant advancement in EV technology.

While Tesla has been the undisputed leader in EV sales, BMW’s recent developments indicate a shift in the competitive landscape. Despite selling fewer EVs than Tesla, BMW Group’s sales have surged, indicating growing market traction. The key to BMW’s confidence lies in its Gen 6 cylindrical cells, boasting lower manufacturing costs and increased energy density compared to previous models.

These cylindrical cells, with their larger size and enhanced capabilities, are tailor-made to meet BMW’s performance standards. Offering up to 30% more range on a similarly sized pack and enabling rapid DC fast charging at 270 kW, BMW’s cells set a new benchmark in EV technology.

According to BMW, the company has fundamentally refined the cell format, cell chemistry and pack, which compared to 5th generation prismatic batteries will result in:

  • more than 20% higher volumetric energy density (no info about gravimetric energy density)
  • up to 30% higher driving range (WLTP) so potentially more than 800 km (500 miles) of range
  • up to 30% improved charging speed (from 10% to 80% SOC)
  • up to 50% lower cost on the pack level
  • up to 60% reduced CO2 emission from cell production (through green power and secondary material)

However, BMW’s journey to electrification is still in progress. While sample units are being manufactured in-house, full-scale production is slated to begin in 2025 at six battery gigafactories worldwide, in collaboration with suppliers like CATL and Eve Energy. By focusing on perfecting cell design and handing over manufacturing to trusted partners, BMW aims to ensure quality and consistency in its EV lineup.

Nedeljkovic aptly likens the process to cooking, emphasizing the importance of a good recipe. BMW’s meticulous approach to cell development, testing various chemistries for optimal performance and cost-effectiveness, underscores its commitment to innovation.

Beyond lithium-ion, BMW is exploring alternative chemistries for its Gen 6 cells, promising further advancements in the future.

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