BMW is betting electric vehicles will become the next big thing and the company has announced plans to invest €200 ($238) million to create a new battery cell competence center in Munich, Germany.
Set to open in early 2019, the battery cell competence center will play an important role in the development of the company’s next-generation of electric vehicles. As BMW research and development boss Klaus Fröhlich explained, “We will be concentrating all our in-house expertise along the battery-cell value chain at our new high-tech competence center. We will focus on further improvements in battery performance, lifespan, safety, charging and also costs. We will set the benchmark for the industry.”
Besides announcing the battery cell competence center, the automaker revealed some new details about its fifth-generation electric powertrain that will be launched in 2021. The upcoming powertrain incorporates a number of improvements and features a lightweight aluminum casing that houses an electric motor, a single-speed transmission, and assortment of different electronics. Interestingly, the electric motor will be scalable for multiple performance applications and won’t use any rare earth metals.
The tighter integration of components is just one change as the fifth-generation powertrain will use more powerful batteries that fit into a modular battery pack. The battery pack will be located underneath the floor and it can be integrated into various architectures.
Thanks to these changes, electric vehicles with the new powertrain will be able to travel up to 700 km (435 miles) on a single charge. Plug-in hybrids will also benefit from the changes as their electric-only range will increase to up to 100 km (62 miles).