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BMW Solid State Batteries Eliminate "Range Anxiety"

October 12, 2021

BMW Awarded Funding for New Solid-State Battery Tech

You’ve heard of “range anxiety.” It’s the worry that an electric car will run out of power before your destination or a charging point can be reached. It has been cited as the most important reason why many consumers are reluctant to purchase an EV. Well, what if “range anxiety” no longer exists? That is the aim of automaker BMW and they are major step closer to making that goal a reality.

A BMW project centered around the development of a long-distance electric vehicle battery was recently awarded $36.07 million in joint funding from industry and the U.K. government. The Oxford-based project, called BMW-UK-BEV, is one of four to receive funding via the Advanced Propulsion Centre Collaborative Research and Development competition.

Superior Battery Performance at Competitive Costs

According to the APC, BMW’s project is focused on an EV battery “to rival the range of internal combustion engines.” It would, the APC said, look to “develop BMW Group’s largest battery pack to deliver superior performance at competitive costs.”

With the U.K. planning to stop selling new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030, the rollout of technologies able to boost the distances of electric vehicles will be crucial. Among other things, this will help to challenge perceptions surrounding range anxiety.

Other successful projects to receive funding are Brunel, which is looking at hydrogen-fueled internal combustion engines; Celeritas, which relates to the development of ultra-fast charging batteries; and Reecorner, which is linked to the redesign of what the government described as “light and medium-sized commercial electric vehicles.”

Ian Constance, who is the APC’s chief executive, said in a statement that the projects tackled “some really important challenges in the journey to net-zero road transport. They address range anxiety and cost which can be barriers to people making the switch to electric vehicles and also provide potential solutions to the challenge of how we decarbonize public transport and the movement of goods.”

The New Class is Coming

BMW aims to produce the world’s greenest electric vehicles. The automaker calls these vehicles “the New Class.” According to the German car maker, the BMW Group is strengthening its battery competence and accelerating the advancement of electric mobility. This significant objective is reflected in the New Class of vehicles first presented by the BMW Group in March 2021. For this New Class, which features all-electric drive systems and is due to be launched at the middle of this decade, the BMW Group is already in the process of developing the next generation of its battery technology.”

Oliver Zipse, Chairman of the Executive Board of the BMW AG, stressed how tremendously important the New Class is for the future of electric mobility. “With the New Class, we will be taking a giant technological leap in the field of electric drive systems,” Zipse says. “We aim to significantly increase the energy density of the cells and, at the same time, lower the cost of material input and production. We will also reduce the use of primary materials considerably in order to ensure the production of a truly ‘green’ battery.”

Ten Million All-Electric Vehicles by 2030

By 2025, the BMW Group will have boosted sales of all-electric models by an average of well over 50 percent annually – a more than tenfold increase compared to the year 2020. By the end of 2025, the company will have delivered a total of two million all-electric vehicles to customers.

Current market expectations predict that all-electric vehicles will account for at least 50 percent of worldwide sales by the year 2030. In the next few years, BMW hopes to put approximately ten million all-electric vehicles on the road. Consequently, BMW is also on target in achieving the EU’s ambitious CO2 reduction goals in 2025 and 2030.

BMW and Ford Invest in Solid-State Battery Start-Up

To that end, the Ford Motor Company and BMW are investing $130 million in solid-state battery startup company Solid Power in a push to reduce the cost and increase the range of their future electric vehicles. Ford initially contributed to an earlier investment round in 2019, and both automakers have joint agreements to use the technology in upcoming electric vehicles that will arrive by 2030.

Solid-state batteries, which are not yet being used in mass-market cars, promise to offer greater energy density compared to the lithium-ion batteries typically used in today’s electric vehicles. Solid Power uses sulfide-based cells which are not flammable and deliver more than 50 percent more energy density.

The startup produces them using a manufacturing infrastructure similar to that used for lithium-ion battery production. The production costs of manufacturing solid-state batteries could be 40 percent lower than that of current lithium-ion batteries when they reach full-scale production.

Solid Power will begin production of the automotive batteries early next year, according to Doug Campbell, CEO and co-founder of Solid Power. Imagine owning a new BMW or Ford all-electric car with a range of 500 miles between charging. Range anxiety will become a thing of the past.

For more information of EV batteries, read our Definitive Guide to Electric Car Batteries.