New tech will make them lighter and boost their capacity, says BMW
Mark Tisshaw
14 February 2017

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.

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.”

Electric BMW X3 to join 3 Series, X4 and Mini in future EV range

All-electric BMW i8 in the works

Join the debate


14 February 2017
Currently batteries are getting about 7% better each year. BMW now sell an i3 with approximately 50% more battery capacity than they did when mine rolled off the production line 3 years ago. And given this improvement they want us to be impressed that they'll get 15-20% in 10 years?

I think the easier way to see what BMW will be doing in a few years time is to look at Samsung's product development as that's who supplies their batteries.

At some stage manufacturers will decide that they've hit enough range. I suspect with the top end cars we're not far off that now. The limiting part then will be recharge times and availability. At that point higher density batteries will mean that manufacturers will be able to use smaller, lighter batteries.

14 February 2017
chandrew wrote:

Currently batteries are getting about 7% better each year. BMW now sell an i3 with approximately 50% more battery capacity than they did when mine rolled off the production line 3 years ago. And given this improvement they want us to be impressed that they'll get 15-20% in 10 years?

Most recent developments to energy density are from improvement to the battery pack, not the cells themselves.

If we take Tesla for example, there's about a 20% density improvement between the 100 and original 85 batteries, but only 7.5% comes from the cells themselves. Most of it has come from redesigning the module hardware and cooling system to be smaller and lighter.

So a 15-20% improvement at the cell level is a big deal. Although battery density is said to improve a few percent per year, this happens in sizeable jumps every few years rather than regular progress.

Another thing to bear in mind is that energy density is only part of the question. This should also facilitate cheaper prices (less raw materials needed to make a given kilowatt-hour figure), higher discharge (ie. more horsepower) and faster charging.

14 February 2017
I read that article as solid state batteries will have a 10-15% increase over the equivalent liquid type battery. Therefore the 7% improvement that you quote would apply to both.

14 February 2017
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.


Hydrogen cars just went POP

14 February 2017
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?

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.

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