BMW To Develop Future Lithium-Ion Batteries With Toyota

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Lithium-ion battery cells are expensive, challenging, and time-consuming to develop. And they can be hard to get right, as the current woes of A123 Systems show.

Even the large car companies that develop their own cells--Toyota is the largest among a small number--want to spread their costs.

Today BMW announced that it would collaborate with Toyota on research into future cells, and the two companies had already begun that research.

Specifically, the companies are investigating new materials for the electrodes (anode and cathode) and the electrolyte through which ions pass to deliver electricity from the cell.

The cells will likely be used in future electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and other low- or zero-emission vehicles.

The announcement extends an agreement, signed last December by Toyota Motor Corp. and BMW Group, for the two companies to collaborate on future "environment-friendly" vehicles and technologies.

At that time, BMW said it would supply 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter diesel engines to Toyota, starting in 2014, presumably for use in Toyota and/or Lexus vehicles to be sold in Europe.

That agreement is similar to one in which Mercedes-Benz will supply diesel engines to Nissan, for its Nissan and/or Infiniti vehicles, and will build four-cylinder engines in the U.S. together at a Nissan plant. That collaboration goes far deeper, however, and extends to shared platforms for small vehicles.

BMW ActiveHybrid logo

BMW ActiveHybrid logo

Enlarge Photo

Toyota, Japan's largest automaker and the second largest car company in the world, is moving away from its historical isolation and go-it-alone stance.

Under new CEO Akio Toyoda, it has negotiated a number of joint ventures and cooperative development deals with a variety of other carmakers. In the past two years, it has:

This latest agreement marks the third lithium-ion cell partner for BMW.

The cells for the battery pack in its 2010 BMW ActiveHybrid 7 came from the French-American partnership JCI-Saft, and the cells in its 2012 ActiveHybrid 5 and 2013 ActiveHybrid 3 come from A123 Systems.

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Comments (9)
  1. Toyota currently is in collaboration with the Tokyo Institute of Technology and another firm to develop new cells and have claimed that they will be commercialized within the next 5 years and will cost only 10 to 25 percent as much as current li ion cells.

  2. you mean batteries will improve ????

    and they will be here just exactly when then the car companies need them, in order to sell that next wave of evs.

  3. It seems that only the large established auto makers have the capital to spend on research and development of new Li/ion battery packs. Companies like A123 can ill afford to have recalls since replacing the defective battery packs can cost them millions of dollars. What I find a bit dismaying from the large manufactures is their apparent reluctance to develop a long range EV with ranges greater than 150 miles. All the big manufactures like Nissan, Ford and Chevy Spark are expected to have ranges of 75 to 100 miles at most. Toyota's Plug in Prius only has a range of 11 miles on pure EV. I really hope Tesla is successful with the release of the Model S since the base model has 160 mile range which is enough to satisfy all but 1% of drivers.

  4. @Mark: Au contraire. The bulk of Li-ion cells do NOT come from automakers. They come from (a) battery companies (e.g. LG Chem, Panasonic, A123, more) or (b) joint ventures with battery companies (e.g. AESC, which is Nissan + NEC, or SB-LiMotive, which is Bosch + Samsung).

  5. Good to hear that John. I am glad that the automakers do not have any type of monopoly on the Li-ion cells being used for EV's since that could lead to them being more expensive as replace since the manufactures of the vehicles would have full control over the cost of the replacement battery pack. Lots of competition is great since it will hopefully lead to reductions in prices so Ev's can become cost competitive with ICE vehicles and so replacement batteries for older Ev's will not be prohibitively expensive if you decide to buy a 5 to 7 year old EV when the batteries are on their last legs.

  6. You do know that long range batteries are just packs with more modules in them, right? There really isn't any secret to it.

  7. I heard that EU's gas is $11.00 per gallon, so why is EU still tinkering around with fossil fuel vehicles? There is nothing that can equal the concept "Keep'em poor, barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen. It is hard to break an old habit, isn't it EU? Your bastard children, the U.S. is just like you.

  8. Before you set about ripping the EU a new "a-hole", you may want to re-check that price quote; you're a bit off. Also, there is more to it than just gas price; you may need a refresher in European social studies or take a trip and see first hand. ;O

    BTW, it's "bastard children ARE just... or bastard child IS..."

    -- just saying...

    Peace

  9. It's funny how just 2 years ago at the NY car show BMW made it clear they will not have a battery or plug-in vehicle. A little late to the party...

    MrEnergyCzar

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