Electromobility: BMW opens competence center

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I n the new competence center for battery cells, the BMW Group is bundling its research on battery cells for electric mobility and wants to expand and refine its knowledge along the entire value chain of battery cells. 'The new battery cell competence center puts us in a unique position: Based on the current technology of the BMW i3, we will double the energy density of our battery cells by 2030 and thus the range for our customers,' announced BMW boss Oliver Zipse. 'The battery cell technology is a key success factor of our electric offensive. Here we can determine which formats, with which materials, and under which conditions. This means we are ideally positioned for the further roll-out of our electrified vehicles.'

200 employees and 200 million euros

BMW boss Zipse shows Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder the new research opportunities in the BMW battery cell competence center.

The battery cell competence center accommodates the entire chain of battery cell technology on 8,000 square meters: research and development, composition and design of the cells through to mass production. The Munich-based company has invested a total of 200 million euros in the area, on which 200 employees, mostly from the fields of chemistry, physics and mechanical engineering, will be employed. At Lemgostraße, the focus is now on short distances and interdisciplinary cooperation - the teams should build up the best possible knowledge from purchasing raw materials to the right production process.

The researchers and developers frankly place sustainability and profitability in theFocus. The materials used, the raw material markets with their sometimes high volatility and the battery cell market as a whole are considered to be three major cost drivers. The experts on site all made it clear that they did not want to compete with established cell manufacturers such as CATL, Samsung, Panasonic or Northvolt. Nevertheless, as a premium supplier, BMW has to be on an equal footing with the aforementioned companies in terms of cell know-how in order to build the best vehicles. BMW continues to rely on the two manufacturers Samsung and CATL for its e-vehicles.

According to its own information, BMW has 500,000 e-vehicles on the streets today. With regard to the proportion of electrified cars, BMW boss Zipse has announced that a quarter of all BMW vehicles sold in Europe will be electrified by 2021. In 2025 it should make up a third and in 2030 half of all vehicles sold in Europe. By 2030, Zipse says - based on the current cell technology of the e-car i3 - the energy density of the battery cells will double and with it the range for BMW customers.

Purchase of raw materials directly from the mine

BMW has been analyzing battery cells since 2008 and carrying out various tests on small-format test cells it developed.

Another area that seems important and urgent to the BMW Group is sustainability and raw materials. That is why they are also working intensively on the supply chains for battery cells - right down to the raw material mines. From 2020, BMW will purchase the cobalt and lithium required for the battery cells for the next, fifth generation of high-voltage electrical storage systems directly from the mine and then have the raw materials delivered to its two cell producers, where the battery cells will be mass-produced. The new supply contracts also guarantee security of supply until 2025. In future, cobalt will be obtained directly from mines in Australia and Morocco, and lithium from Australia, among others. To recycle its energy storage systems after their service life, BMW announced that it would aim for a quota of over 90 percent. In the newCompetence center is also being researched into recycling methods in order to keep almost all raw materials of a discarded battery in a raw material cycle.


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