BMW to use cylindrical cells in next-gen battery to exceed 620-mile range

But that won't be necessary says the company and focuses on making it more sustainable.
Ameya Paleja
EV BMW at charging station
BMW's i3 EV

iStock/Tramino 

Come 2025, BMW will unveil its NEUE KLASSE (New Class) models with next-generation battery technology that uses cylindrical cells and can exceed the 620 miles (1,000 km) benchmark that has been set for electric vehicles, a company press release said last week.

The company has already awarded contracts for the production of these new cells that have been designed and developed by its own Battery Cell Competence Centre. As per current estimates, the new design will help reduce the cost of manufacturing the battery by 50 percent when compared to the current generation cells.

With battery costs comprising as much as 40 percent of the cost of an EV, this is expected to help the company reduce the manufacturing costs for its future models and bring them to par with its internal combustion models, the press release added.

BMW's Sixth Generation Battery Cell

BMW has moved from the prismatic shape of the cells in its fifth generation battery to a cylindrical round shape. With a diameter of 46 mm, the cells will come in two different heights, either 96 mm or 120 mm.

The nickel content on the cathode has been increased while reducing cobalt. On the anode side, the composition of silicon has been increased, which together is expected to increase the volumetric density of the cell by 20 percent. This is expected to add 30 percent more range than the current battery, but the company will not exceed a 620-mile (1,000 km) range as it does not think it is necessary, Autocar reported.

BMW to use cylindrical cells in next-gen battery to exceed 620-mile range
BMW is using cylindrical architecture in its next-gen battery cells

BMW 

BMW has assigned a key role to the battery pack in the design of the NEUE KLASSE models and the battery will be flexibly integrated into the body without a cell module level, saving further space.

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Capable of taking a higher voltage of 800V, the battery can be charged with a current of up to 500 amperes allowing a 30 percent reduction in charging time when going from 10-80 percent state of charge.

The new generation batteries will be manufactured by CATL and EVE Energy, who will set up gigafactories in China and Europe with an annual capacity of 20 GWh each. BMW also has plans for two more factories in North America.

Addressing sustainability concerns of EVs

IE has reported on the dark side of shifting to electric transportation, and with the sixth generation battery, BMW has attempted to address this crucial issue as well.

According to the press release, cell manufacturers will use a certain percentage of cobalt, lithium, and nickel that hasn't been newly mined but has been in the loop of making batteries previously. In addition to this, the manufacturing process will utilize green power to reduce the carbon footprint of the battery cell by up to 60 percent.

The cobalt and lithium used will come from certified mines, with the company maintaining transparency over the extraction methods and ensuring responsible mining, the press release claimed. Additionally, the new generation battery cell can also be made using lithium iron phosphate at the cathodes, eliminating cobalt and nickel altogether.

With regards to the battery life, BMW told Autocar that upcoming legislation in the U.S. will likely require a minimum of 80% battery performance after 10 years, but BMW will perform better than that.

The batteries will be introduced to all car models under the BMW Group, including Rolls Royce and Mini starting in 2025.

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