BMW on Friday provided the first details on its new sixth-generation battery design. Due around the middle of the decade, the sixth-gen battery promises significant performance improvements over the current fifth-generation design used in the automaker's latest electric vehicles, like the 2022 BMW iX and 2022 BMW i4.
The new battery sticks with familiar lithium-ion technology but adopts a round cell design that provides packaging advantages over the current prismatic cell design BMW uses, something referred to as “pack to open body.”
Inside the actual cell, the silicon content on the anode side and the nickel portion on the cathode side have been increased, while the portion containing expensive cobalt has been reduced. The cobalt could also be swapped out for lithium-iron phosphate if needed.
According to the automaker, the new design translates to a 20% improvement in the cell's volumetric energy density. The automaker also estimates range will be improved by 30% over a fifth-generation battery of similar size and weight.
Another key advantage of the new battery is a switch to an 800-volt electrical architecture, something more and more automakers are adopting as it enables DC fast charging at high rates. BMW hasn't mentioned a specific time figure but said charging a battery from 10%-80% should be about 30% quicker than it is today.
Development of batteries takes place at BMW's Battery Cell Competence Center located in Munich, Germany. BMW will also be responsible for production of the batteries, which will be handled by six plants each with an annual capacity of up to 20 gwh. The six plants will be divided equally among China, Europe, and North America, and will use both new and recycled materials for the batteries. This last factor, in combination with the new cell design, means the cost of producing the battery could be reduced by up to 50%, compared to the fifth-generation battery, BMW said.
BMW will introduce the new battery in a family of EVs code-named the Neue Klasse, German for "New Class." The first of the Neue Klasse EVs will arrive in 2025 and will include a sedan in the 3-Series segment and a sporty SUV.