If you needed a bigger sign that the current zeitgeist of vehicle transportation is electric, look no further than BMW’s recent investment of €200 million for what the German brand is calling a “battery cell competence centre.”
The rather large capital expenditure, based in Munich, centers around the German brand’s commitment to electric vehicles, and its desire to develop next-generation electric drivetrains.
Specifically, the battery cell facility will allow BMW to explore new battery cell designs, chemistries, and technologies, so it can better work with battery cell manufacturers for the automotive company’s growing needs.
The facility will also help BMW create a modular and integrate electric drivetrain, which sees the electric motor, transmission, battery, and controller all combined into a singular unit, rather than BMW’s current setup of various separate pieces.
BMW is calling this a fifth-generation electric drivetrain, and expects to see it in a production vehicle by the year 2021.
This timing should be of note to loyal Asphalt & Rubber readers, as it coincides with the timelines given by several brands, on when they expect to implement solid-state battery technology. BMW says it plans to use solid-state batteries by the year 2026.
BMW hints at this when it says that “the fifth-generation electric drivetrain also uses new, more powerful batteries. Their scalable, modular design means they can be used flexibly in the respective vehicle architecture at different production sites.”
This new fifth-generation electric drivetrain can reportedly be fit into any of BMW’s automobile models, thus allowing the Bavarian brand to electrify its entire passenger vehicle lineup, similar to Volkswagen’s current Roadmap E initiative.
One can also presume that BMW’s research into an integrated electric drivetrain system bodes well for BMW Motorrad, as the motorcycle arm of BMW begins to explore electric motorcycles, beyond the companies current crop of electric scooters.
Also of note is the fact that BMW’s fifth-generation electric drivetrain does not rely on rare-earth metals for its motor design, which not only has strong environmental benefits, but it also means that BMW’s supply chain is not dependent on rare elements that may become difficult or expensive to acquire in the future.
This shows that BMW is taking a long-term approach to its electric vehicle design. It also shows that the Bavarians are rapidly learning and charting the uncertain waters of electric vehicle design.
Entrenched petrol-powered brands have been slow to understand their electric future, but today’s news shows that some of these old dogs can learn new tricks.
Source: BMW Group