No solid-state batteries before end of decade – BMW

The German automaker will start work on the technology next year but is not expecting quick results

No solid-state batteries before end of decade – BMW
New BMW battery chief Kurt Vandeputte (r) alongside his predecessor Peter Lamp

Germany’s BMW is “on a very good path” on developing all-solid-state batteries (ASSB) for its future EVs, according to Kurt Vandeputte, the firm’s new general manager for battery technology. However, he is not expecting any meaningful impact from the firm’s plans until the 2030s.

BMW is establishing a new process development line at its Cell Manufacturing Competence Centre (CMCC) in Parsdorf, together with its partner, US-listed ASSB developer Solid Power. On this line it will work — in conjunction with Solid Power’s efforts across the Atlantic — “on the next steps to bring this advanced battery technology in the car”, Vandeputte, who joined BMW from Belgian materials technology company Umicore at the start of November, says.

“The potential of the technology is there: higher energy densities paired with at least equal safety as today,” he continues. But while the new line will be up and running in the second quarter of 2024, the new battery chief cautions against fast results.

“Realistically speaking, we will need some more years to mature the technology and make it ready for industrialisation — not before the end of the decade,” Vandeputte says.

OEMs such as Japan's Toyota and battery makers like US firm Factorial have been talking up their ASSB plans in recent weeks and months.

Going cylindrical

Until then, BMW’s main focus will be new cylindrical cell it is developing for the firm’s Gen6 eDrive technology that will power its Neue Klasse range of BEVs. The new cells promise 20pc more volumetric energy density, 30pc faster charging and 30pc more range compared to comparable models featuring Gen5 technology, according to Vandeputte’s predecessor Peter Lamp — who will remain with BMW until the Gen6 project is delivered.

“At the beginning of the process we really started from a white sheet of paper and open to all cell formats and sizes,” says Lampe of the process of deciding to switch from prismatic to cylindrical cells. “With ambitious performance and safety goals, we soon came to the conclusion that the cylindrical cell is the best format for our next generation. Also, it fits best our integration approach for the Neue Klasse.”

And BMW’s overall battery strategy is, in Lampe’s view, “rather simple”. “Develop the in-house competence in both critical fields — battery cell technology and large-scale battery production — as fast and consequent as possible. And, by doing this, enable BMW to put the best battery into its electrified vehicles,” he explains.

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