electrek:

BMW appears highly confident about its latest generation of battery cells as it claims that “Tesla needs to close the gap” with them.

The electric vehicle revolution starts with batteries, and Tesla has been regarded as having an edge on that front thanks to its early investments into battery production with Panasonic.

However, some other automakers have since followed and started to close the gap with their own investments.

BMW believes that it has closed the gap.

The automaker is preparing to launch its 6th generation battery cell developed in-house by the BMW Group Cell Manufacturing Competence Center in Parsdorf, Germany.

BMW claims several improvements with those cells:

  • New bigger format: 46 mm by 95 mm or 120 mm depending on the version
  • 20% increase in energy density
  • 60% lower production-related carbon emissions
  • They claim 30% more range and up to 500-mile (~800-km) EVs, but that’s at the battery pack level – not just due to the cells

BMW Group production head, Milan Nedeljkovic, claims that the performance surpasses Tesla’s (via Auto News):

“Tesla needs to close the gap with us. In fact, we don’t see a gap to Tesla… What we have here is a battery design that suits our products, and our idea of how driving performance is fulfilled in our cars.”

The new cell is based on a format first unveiled by Tesla in 2020, the 4680, which was a big step forward for cylindrical cells, but BMW has now made it even bigger.

BMW is developing the manufacturing process for the new cell in Germany, but it plans to partner with CATL for the volume production.

Nedeljkovic had an interesting analogy about the process:

“If you want to cook something really nice you need a good recipe, and the recipe determines the taste. We develop the recipe, namely the chemistry and physics of a cell. We change the content and test how each single cell ingredient will influence performance. As the next step, you need to find a manufacturing process that matches your recipe. That’s why we have this production facility here in Parsdorf to make sure that the dish tastes as good as it should.”

While all that talk shows confidence, the 6th gen BMW batteries are not going to make their ways into new EVs until 2025.

Electrek’s Take

I think this is mostly all talk. There’s a chance that BMW actually reverse-engineered Tesla’s 4680 and truly believes that they have an edge, but somehow, I doubt it.

The truth is that Tesla is still improving its 4680 cell and it is still nowhere near where it needs to be to match the level announced at Battery Day.

Also, it’s important to note that the most important factor for mass-market vehicles is the cost of those battery cells in volume production.

Clearly, BMW doesn’t have that yet since it is still 2 years away. We are going to have to wait until then to see if the claims hold.

In the meantime, I am happy to see the friendly competition with Tesla on the battery front from a major legacy automaker.

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MuskWire TLDR:

BMW is confident about its latest generation of battery cells and claims that Tesla needs to “close the gap” with them. The automaker is set to launch its 6th generation battery cell, which was developed in-house at the BMW Group Cell Manufacturing Competence Center in Germany. The new cells boast a bigger format, 20% increase in energy density, and 60% lower production-related carbon emissions. BMW claims that the cells can provide 30% more range and enable EVs with up to 500 miles of range. The automaker believes that its battery performance surpasses Tesla’s. The new cell is based on Tesla’s 4680 format but has been made even bigger. BMW is developing the manufacturing process for the new cell in Germany and plans to partner with CATL for volume production. However, the 6th gen BMW batteries won’t be used in new EVs until 2025. While BMW’s claims show confidence, it remains to be seen if they hold true. The most important factor for mass-market vehicles is the cost of battery cells in volume production, an area where BMW still needs improvement. Nonetheless, the friendly competition with Tesla on the battery front from a major legacy automaker is encouraging.