BMW Invests In Solid-State Batteries for Electric Cars
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Among the landscape of emerging battery technology, BMW takes a different approach from other electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers.
According to The Drive, BMW announced that it won’t be investing in lithium-ion factories to build electric car batteries. Instead, the automaker will work with solid-state battery company Solid Power.
This is a departure from other automakers like Tesla and General Motors (GM) who recently announced they’d be building their own large, lithium-ion gigafactories. What’s behind BMW’s choice to invest in solid-state technology?
What does BMW think about lithium-ion technology?
BMW's Chief Technology Officer Frank Weber explained that lithium-ion technology is constantly changing and improving. Weber believes that investing in such a rapidly changing technology just doesn't make financial sense.
Lithium-ion batteries are used in everyday devices like cell phones and laptops, but solid-state ones are more compact and can hold more charge. Currently, lithium-ion batteries are standard for EVs.
Weber said that solid-state batteries look promising, and sees it as a vehicle-ready solution. He added that from start to finish, it can take almost 10 years to produce battery cells in high quantities to build electric cars. BMW has already worked with Solid Power for five years, and the automaker understands the solid-state technology very well.
Why isn’t BMW building its own gigafactory?
BMW thinks that battery technology is changing too fast to invest in a specific facility like a gigafactory for battery production. Basically, by the time a gigafactory can be built, battery technology will most likely evolve.
Building a facility that relies on a single technology would essentially box in the automaker. You don’t want to build a plant around a technology that will change every three years.
BMW has historically been an innovator that’s worked with sleek concept cars and alternative fuel sources before they were common. It's no surprise that the carmaker is thinking about alternatives to EV battery options.
What are other automakers doing?
One of BMW's big competitors, Daimler AG, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, is also investing in solid-state technology. Daimler recently announced a partnership with Canadian battery material specialist Hydro-Québec to develop solid-state batteries for its EVs.
Tesla, another big competitor, is building a gigafactory in Germany. GM and Volkswagen have announced plans for 240 gigawatt-hours of battery production by 2030. Although the future for EVs and battery technology is constantly in flux, you’ll always need to have the right car insurance for your vehicle.
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