Currently reading: BMW readies radical battery technology for 2026 launch
New tech will make them lighter and boost their capacity, says BMW

BMW expects a breakthrough in battery technology in 2026, by which time it plans to have solid-state batteries ready for production in its models.

The batteries will use lithium ion technology but swap liquid electrolytes for solid ones, with initial targets being for a 15-20% increase in capacity.

Other benefits include less weight and a reduction in the amount of safety protection needed due to the reduced fire risk. This also allows for the packaging and housing of the batteries to be revisited.

The batteries are in development but 10 years away from production, with long-term durability testing cited as a key reason for the delay.

P90128018 highres bmw i3 production bm

The next development in the refinement of BMW’s existing battery technology will arrive in 2018 in time for the launch of the Mini Cooper E and the all-electric version of the next-generation BMW X3.

BMW will continue to develop its internal combustion engine technology, which is predicted to remain the most popular power source for its models until at least the end of the next decade. The firm wants to improve the efficiency of its engines to 33%, compared with the 90% efficiency of its electric drivetrains.

Sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson said: “The internal combustion engine has a long way to go. We will improve the efficiency and mate them to electric vehicles in many cases.

“Plug-in cars are faster, quieter and better accelerating but set new benchmarks for CO2 and economy. It’s all moving in that direction for legislation. We will drive to improve [engines] alongside electric powertrains.”

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Mark Tisshaw

Title: Editor

Mark is a journalist with more than a decade of top-level experience in the automotive industry. He first joined Autocar in 2009, having previously worked in local newspapers. He has held several roles at Autocar, including news editor, deputy editor, digital editor and his current position of editor, one he has held since 2017.

From this position he oversees all of Autocar’s content across the print magazine, website, social media, video, and podcast channels, as well as our recent launch, Autocar Business. Mark regularly interviews the very top global executives in the automotive industry, telling their stories and holding them to account, meeting them at shows and events around the world.

Mark is a Car of the Year juror, a prestigious annual award that Autocar is one of the main sponsors of. He has made media appearances on the likes of the BBC, and contributed to titles including What Car?Move Electric and Pistonheads, and has written a column for The Sun.

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Vertigo 14 February 2017


I'm surprised Samsung SDI are ok with BMW announcing their progress on this.

VAG is switching from LG Chem to Samsung SDI cells this year, so we may expect a similar timeframe from Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche EVs.

Anyway, it's refreshing to hear something concrete about technical developments with batteries from someone who matters. Usually, it's silence from the big players, and lots of noise with no real timeline from little teams of scientists in labs and optimistic start-ups.

LP in Brighton 14 February 2017

Sounds like some pretty honest comments from BMW

Both in regard to the likely state of progress in battery tech and in the efficiency of their petrol ic engines. So why the big gap between BMW's 33% and Toyota's claimed 40% for its most efficient petrol engines? Maybe only one company is telling the truth, or is really BMW so far behind?
xxxx 14 February 2017

Why don't they just say...

They not quite up to Renault, GM, Nissan and Telsa's standard yet in the quest to make an EV in large numbers. Nissan's next Leaf will be a game changer probably more so than the Model 3.