BMW Group has announced details of its upcoming electric drivetrain and will invest €200 million in a new Battery Cell Competence Centre.
BMW Group has announced some of its spending plans on electrification technologies over the next four years. Specifically, the interdisciplinary Battery Cell Competence Centre, opening early in 2019 and offering 200 new jobs, will be based in Munich and will help the corporation to advance its battery cell technology using specially designed research and prototyping facilities.
Within those areas, the centre will also host specialist departments that will focus on cell design analysis, future battery development, chemical composition, material variation, product integration, and weather variables. According to the press release, the Group is putting its research into the BMW i-series at the forefront of the new centre’s activities, in order to develop high impact technology for all upcoming models.
R&D Manager on the BMW AG Board of Management, Klaus Fröhlich, explained more at the recent ceremony: “International experts working in the new development labs and facilities will conduct important research to refine cell chemistry and cell design. We will focus on further improvements in battery performance, lifespan, safety, charging and also costs. We will set the benchmark for the industry.”
Production Manager, Oliver Zipse, also expanded on what the centre will be investigating, namely the cell’s “value-creation processes.” The aim here will be to allow all suppliers to build battery cells to exact BMW Group specifications. He also suggested that this building process is, ultimately, not something that BMW would keep under strict company control – in fact, it appears that the Group is specifically looking to outsource manufacture.
Fifth-generation electric drivetrain
The latest technology is slated for release in 2021 and will aim to optimise the interactive processes between the electric motor, transmission, electronics and battery. In order to do this, there will be a separate compact electric-drive component.
BMW’s MED (Modular Electric Drive) will be out in force as the company promises lower costs, fewer parts, scalability, performance-specific “modifiability” and easy installation.
The aforementioned centre will be concentrating on using new materials, as evidenced in its new drivetrain . It will not require the use of rare earths and therefore removes dependency on those minerals. Batteries and an increase in power have also been at the forefront, and it’s expected that range will be greatly improved; fully electric models should reach up to 700km on a single charge, while plug-in vehicles should reach 100km.
Ultimately, BMW hopes that this dedicated approach to battery cell development and more flexible, scalable drivetrains will give the Group a competitive edge. Already, BMW claims to have seen record sales and is aiming to reach a global target of several hundred thousand by 2025.
If the latest technology to come out of the company achieves the promise of easy integration into all types of systems, as well as decreased cost to manufacturers and consumers, it seems as though BMW might even beat that number.