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BMW likely planning a shift to cylindrical battery cells in next-generation EVs

BMW will reportedly be switching to cylindrical cells for its next-generation EV platform due round 2025.

The information accompanies current confirmations of an settlement for a probably large-scale provide settlement signed between the Chinese language battery big CATL and BMW. 

In accordance with Reuters sources, the shift to cylindrical cells, quite than the prismatic format BMW has unified its fifth-generation EV propulsion suite round, will deliver large price financial savings—within the vary of 30 p.c. 

That’s concerning the time BMW will launch its new devoted electrical car platform, referred to as Neue Klasse. Earlier this month, CEO Oliver Zipse clarified that this mannequin “will probably be targeting the 3-Sequence section.” Mixed with different current feedback, it goes to say that BMW doesn’t see this as a catch-all EV platform for a really big selection of fashions, like VW’s MEB, GM’s Ultium, or Nissan/Renault’s CMF-EV. It is going to be targeted to profit from the packaging in a really particular measurement of auto—one which’s lengthy been a best-seller for BMW. 

Julia Louis-Dreyfus with AA cylindrical battery – SNL parody, 4/2016

The battery determination, nevertheless, would mark an entire turnaround for BMW, which through the years has argued that using the format is the inferior choice. 

In 2017, because the constructing blocks for the present technology of EVs was being put in place, BMW’s R&D boss on the time, Klaus Fröhlich, informed this correspondent that we wouldn’t see cylindrical cells from BMW with no game-changing chemistry. They’re inherently riskier, as a result of they depend on a extra aggressive chemistry to supply the identical power density in the identical quantity. That speaking level was echoed two years later across the debut of BMW’s fifth-generation EV propulsion set, which then debuted within the iX3 and is used within the i4 and iX. 

BMW fifth-generation eDrive

BMW fifth-generation eDrive

BMW fifth-generation EV technology

BMW fifth-generation EV expertise

BMW fifth-generation EV technology

BMW fifth-generation EV expertise

It appears prime executives differ concerning the codecs, they usually have for a very long time. Elon Musk in 2021 referred to as the chance of thermal runaway “dangerously excessive with giant pouch cells,” for example, whereas many automakers desire them—GM, for example, in giant format. 

BMW’s cells for these present BMW EVs are from CATL, Samsung SDI, Northvolt, and Eve Power. CATL provides Mercedes-Benz with pouch and prismatic cells for the EQS, and amongst different EVs for the U.S. market, it should provide the cells for the upcoming Nissan Ariya and a few variations of the Toyota BZ4X and Subaru Solterra.

Mercedes-Benz EQS will use batteries sourced from CATL

Mercedes-Benz EQS will use batteries sourced from CATL

We’re curious to see how BMW sees cylindrical cells as having advanced—and maybe what position the present provide chain points, comparable to heightened concern over cobalt costs, could be enjoying in that. 

Earlier this spring, CATL revealed a brand new technology of its cell-to-pack expertise, with claims of superiority for energy and/or power density in comparison with the 4680-format cells Tesla is switching to.

CATL third-generation cell-to-pack tech

CATL third-generation cell-to-pack tech

In the meantime, CATL is reportedly again searching for U.S. manufacturing websites. It had beforehand thought-about a U.S. plant in 2019 however at the moment opted to ascertain a footprint in Europe first.

Nonetheless, there are some simple traits regarding cylindrical cells—particularly that they’re the cell sort favored by just about each firm that completely makes EVs, like Lucid, Tesla, and Rivian. These corporations additionally produce some range-leading automobiles. 

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