- BMW and battery developer Solid Power are developing plans to collaborate on solid-state battery technology, with plans to begin vehicle testing of these cells in 2023.
- The automaker is preparing to build a prototype line at its Cell Manufacturing Competence Center (CMCC) in Germany to test solid-state battery production.
- BMW says a working prototype with a solid-state battery will be presented before 2025, but the timing of the market launch remains fluid for now.
Several automakers and tech startups have been working on solid-state battery technology, with the promise of lighter weight and longer range in EVs being just two of the benefits. The race to offer solid-state batteries in production vehicles is arguably the single most important in terms of EV technology this decade, with several developers chasing different battery compositions, and working to scale them up from the lab to line production.
Battery developer Solid Power, backed by Ford and BMW, is working to use sulfide-based solid electrolytes in place of traditional liquid electrolytes in its battery designs, with the same goal of offering lighter batteries and higher energy density, compared to lithium designs. – traditional ion.
BMW revealed this week that Solid Power plans to send a full-scale automotive cell for testing this year. The two companies have also extended their joint development agreement, allowing BMW to build a prototype line at the Cell Manufacturing Competence Center (CMCC) located in Parsdorf, Germany, near Munich.
This expanded agreement will allow BMW and Solid Power to carry out cell development and manufacturing activities at locations owned by both companies.
Before the prototype manufacturing line is launched, BMW Group staff will work with startup engineers to fine-tune the cell manufacturing process. The automaker says a demonstrator vehicle with solid-state batteries inside will appear before 2025.
“Expanding our relationship with BMW is further evidence that both companies believe in the development of Solid Power technology and the value of solid-state batteries,” said David Jansen, interim CEO, president and chairman of Solid Power.
Other German automakers are also in the race, with Mercedes-Benz backing solid-state startup Factorial Energy, which is based in Boston and is also backed by Stellantis and Hyundai, as well as solid-state developer ProLogium.
But BMW’s Neue Klasse EV, due in 2025, won’t benefit immediately from solid-state technology. The automaker plans to introduce the next generation of cylindrical lithium-ion cells, dubbed Gen6, in the Neue Klasse model, promising a 30 percent increase in range in the WLTP cycle. So solid state batteries are not quite around the corner by BMW estimates, though the automaker will begin testing it in prototypes later this year.
“The new BMW round cell comes with a diameter of 46 millimeters and two different heights of 95 mm and 120 mm,” the automaker said of the next-generation lithium-ion cell. “Compared to the prismatic cells of BMW’s fifth battery cell generation, the cell volume energy density will be improved by more than 20 percent.”
However, BMW has avoided predicting the fair when we’ll see solid-state batteries in its production cars, including Neue Klasse models. BMW expects that before 2030, 50 percent of its sales will come from battery electric models, but whether most of them will be next-generation lithium-ion designs or solid-state compositions remains to be seen. BMW certainly knows that other automakers also want to be the first to offer this technology in their cars.
But Solid Power has a more definitive estimate, indicating it expects to ramp up its electrolyte production by 2028 to power 800,000 vehicles annually.
“BMW remains committed to the pursuit of all-solid-state batteries, a technology that we believe has great potential for the future,” said Frank Weber, BMW Board of Management member, Development.