The BMW Group plans to consolidate its battery cell expertise at a new interdisciplinary competence center, which will open in early 2019. The company will invest a total of 200 million euros in the location over the next four years.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony, BMW Board Member Klaus Fröhlich said, “We will be concentrating all our in-house expertise along the battery-cell value chain at our new high-tech competence center. International experts working in the new development labs and facilities will conduct research to refine cell chemistry and cell design. We will focus on further improvements in battery performance, lifespan, safety, charging and costs.”
Board Member Oliver Zipse added, “By producing battery-cell prototypes, we can analyze and fully understand the cell’s value-creation processes. With this build-to-print expertise, we can enable potential suppliers to produce cells to our specifications. The knowledge we gain is very important to us, regardless of whether we produce the battery cells ourselves or not.”
In the center’s labs and prototyping facilities, specialist departments will analyze cell design and technology, and create prototypes of future battery cells, focusing on the chemical composition of the cells, use of different materials, and how the cell behaves in critical or extremely cold conditions.
The BMW Group has already completed years of research into battery cells and acquired a high level of evaluation competence, especially through the development of its BMW i plug-in vehicles. The company is now developing the fifth generation of its electric drivetrain, for release in 2021.
The new electric drive combines the motor, transmission and power electronics in a single integrated unit that takes up significantly less space than the three separate components used in previous generations. Its modular concept means that it is also scalable and can be modified for a wide range of different packages and performance levels, making it easier to install the new electric drivetrain in different vehicle types.