The paradigm shift affects not only the battery cells, but the entire approach to automobile production. For the first time even disused fishing nets are installed.
“Our internal requirements are more demanding than the legal ones,” explains Thomas Albrecht. For example, the USA stipulates that the power storage devices in electric cars must still have 80 percent of their original capacity after ten years. That will surpass the new class.
But the BMW experts are also doing away with the dream of cobalt-free batteries. It is simply too expensive and too time-consuming to completely banish the chemical element from the cells.
Paradigm shift in energy storage in three years
“The slogan cobalt-free just pulls well,” explains Marie-Therese von Srbik, head of battery development Gen6. The fact that the cobalt content will decrease massively remains unaffected.
There will be a paradigm shift in energy storage in three years. Instead of prismatic cells as before, the sixth generation uses cylindrical cells with a diameter of 46 millimeters and two different heights.
The storage devices have a 20 percent higher energy density, can be charged up to 30 percent faster, guarantee up to 30 percent more range and all in all reduce the costs for an electric vehicle by up to 50 percent.
“We want to make electric cars competitive with models with internal combustion engines”; so Marie-Therese of Srbik. The weight also goes down. Overall, the high-voltage components should weigh ten to 20 percent less than before.
Closed circuit for reuse
In China, the carmaker is in the process of installing a closed circuit for recycling the raw materials nickel, lithium and cobalt from high-voltage batteries. But sustainability doesn’t stop with the batteries.
With the new class, other components made from recycled materials will increasingly find their way into the vehicles. One example is plastic trim parts, around 30 percent of which are made from recycled fishing nets and ropes.
The residual materials from the maritime industry are processed into trim parts in a recycling process, which can be used both in the exterior and interior of future automobiles.
25 percent lower CO2-Footprint
The resulting components have around 25 percent less CO2-Footprint than the corresponding components made of conventionally manufactured plastics. This form of recycling makes it possible to reduce the need for petroleum-based primary plastics and at the same time counteract the pollution of the oceans.
Overall, BMW has set itself the goal of increasing the proportion of secondary materials in the thermoplastics used in new vehicles from currently around 20 to an average of 40 percent by 2030.