BMW holds high hopes for its sixth-generation battery, and it appears to be all thanks to Tesla.
German luxury car-maker BMW has shown off its latest electric-car technology, but the company has all but admitted to copying Tesla’s homework.
BMW detailed its sixth-generation batteries to journalists last week, Automotive News Europe reports, with the car-maker claiming it can deliver up to 30 per cent more driving range for half the price of current battery packs.
The cylindrical-shaped batteries are also said to recharge 30 per cent faster (when charging from 10 to 80 per cent), while production of the batteries create 60 per cent less CO2 emissions.
It’s a technology format and strategy that closely follows Tesla.
The new batteries are expected to become a structural part of future Tesla models – with the aim of increasing range by 16 per cent, while being 50 per cent less expensive to manufacture.
In September 2022, BMW announced it would be adopting 46mm battery cells following media reports from August 2022 that the German car giant would be using the same format as Tesla’s design. The only difference being that BMW says it will offer the 46mm cells with two different heights – one of which is expected to be 80mm.
“The newly-developed sixth-generation of our lithium-ion cells will bring a huge leap in technology that will increase energy density by more than 20 per cent, improve charging speed by up to 30 per cent and enhance range by up to 30 per cent,” senior BMW executive Frank Weber said at the time.
“We are also reducing CO2 emissions from cell production by up to 60 per cent. These are big steps for sustainability and customer benefits.”
Now, BMW says it will be integrating the 46mm batteries as a structural element within its Neue Klasse range of electric car, set to debut in 2025.
“Energy density is much higher than before,” said Simon Erhard this week, the person responsible for leading the project for BMW.
“You can put more cells into the battery pack,” meaning the driving range can be increased compared with the electric cars of today.
“With Gen Six, we are integrating cylindrical battery cells straight into the vehicle. It’s now part of the body,” Mr Erhard said.
“The main challenge is to achieve the right compromise between stiffness and flexibility.”
BMW’s battery technology appears to be lagging Tesla’s tech by roughly two years, but it may be able to close the gap in the next two.
According to a September 2022 report from news outlet Reuters, a dozen experts familiar with the matter have revealed Tesla and its battery manufacturing partners haven’t yet found a way to scale up production of a dry-coating technique used to produce the 4680 battery cells.
“They can produce [the batteries] in small volume, but when they started big volume production, Tesla ended up with many rejects – too many,” a source with ties to Tesla told Reuters at the time.