Europe, China and North America will each have two plants that will produce round lithium ion cells with longer ranges and faster charging capabilities than the prismatic cells currently in use at BMW. The advanced technology costs half of what the older technology does and will bolster BMW’s “Neue Klasse” EV platform.
Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) and Eve Energy Co. will set up and run the new factories in Europe and China as the luxury auto manufacturer overhauls its supply chain. The company still seeks partners for the North American factories.
“We are approaching an enormous technology leap,” Frank Weber, BMW’s development chief, told reporters at a press conference.
Weber noted that BMW’s suppliers have agreed to produce the cells with renewable energy only. They will partly use recycled cobalt, nickel and lithium, which he says will cut production-related carbon emissions by as much as 60%.
BMW will purchase cells rather than produce them, unlike Tesla and Volkswagen AG. This will allow BMS to access new technologies faster for greater gains in efficiency and range.
BMW will partner with CATL and Eve Energy on round cells in Europe and China. The company is still searching for partners in North America. BMW plans to build the two APublishmerican factories in a free-trade zone in the U.S., Canada or Mexico, and each facility will have an annual production capacity up to 20 gigawatt-hours.
BMW already has purchasing contracts with CATL and Eve Energy. Some CATL batteries will come from its Hungary facility, which is already supplying Mercedes-Bez AG. Eve Energy plans to build and operate a second plant to manufacture round cells in Europe.
Neue Klasse entry-level models also may use lithium iron-phosphate batteries, according to Weber. These less-expensive batteries do not require nickel or cobalt, offer less energy density and are heavier than round cells.
Top-of-the-line BMW EVs will deliver a range up to 497 miles and the ability to charge from 10% to 80% in less than 30 minutes, Weber added.