On Friday, BMW provided the first details of its new sixth-generation battery design. Launched sometime in the middle of the decade, the sixth-generation battery promises a significant performance improvement over the current fifth-generation design used in the automaker’s latest electric vehicles, like 2022 BMW iX and 2022 BMW i4.
The new battery uses familiar lithium-ion technology but uses a circular cell design that offers a packaging advantage over the current prismatic cell design that BMW uses, known as an “open pack”.
Inside the actual cell, the silicon content on the anode side and the nickel portion on the cathode side has been increased, while the expensive cobalt-containing portion has been reduced. Cobalt can also be exchanged for lithium-iron phosphate if needed.
According to the automaker, the new design improves the volumetric energy density of the cell by 20%. The automaker also estimates range will be improved by 30% compared to fifth-generation batteries of similar size and weight.
Another major advantage of the new battery is the switch to an 800-volt electrical architecture, something more and more automakers are adopting as it allows for fast DC charging at high speeds. BMW hasn’t mentioned a specific time figure, but says that charging from 10% to 80% will be about 30% faster than today.
Battery development takes place at the BMW Battery Competence Center in Munich, Germany. BMW will also be responsible for battery production, which will be handled by six factories, each with an annual capacity of up to 20 gwh. The six plants will be split equally between China, Europe and North America, and will use both new and recycled materials for the batteries. This last factor, combined with the new cell design, means that battery production costs can be reduced by up to 50%, compared with fifth-generation batteries, BMW says.
BMW will introduce a new battery in the line of electric vehicles codenamed Neue Klasse, German means “New Classroom”. The first of the Neue Klasse EVs will come in 2025 and will include a sedan in the 3-Series segment and a sports SUV.