BMW on Monday announced plans for a prototype solid-state battery by 2025, followed by a production-ready version by 2030. The batteries will power a new generation of electric cars, based on a dedicated platform, making its production debut around that time.
The automaker is in the midst of an electric-car push, but the models announced so far are largely based on existing gasoline models and vehicle architectures. The next group of EVs—dubbed "Neue Klasse" (German for "New Class") in reference to a family of vehicles that saved the company in the 1960s—are ones slated to get solid-state batteries.
In a press release, BMW said it was pursuing solid-state battery cells for their greater energy density. With these cells, the automaker expects energy density to increase "by at least a mid-double-digit percentage range" by the end of the decade.
Several other automakers and battery developers have made similar claims for solid-state cells. Greater energy density would allow for greater energy-storage capacity within a given footprint, increasing range without increasing the size of a battery pack. However, solid-state cells are still commercially unproven.
Solid-state cells may provide advantages in range, shorter charging times, or lower fire risk (due to the non-flammable solid electrolyte), but not cost, predicts Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), which anticipates that the price of solid-state cells won't drop below current liquid-electrolyte lithium-ion cells until 2033 or 2034.
BMW iX production - Dingolfing
Besides BMW, Toyota and Volkswagen are among the automakers that have indicated they're fast-tracking solid-state technology. Both have emphasized performance advantages, such as quicker charging, over cost.
Working with startup QuantumScape, VW doesn't expect to begin using solid-state batteries until the middle of the decade, at the earliest. A 2020 report indicated Toyota was fairly close to unveiling a prototype vehicle powered by solid-state batteries, with a production launch relatively soon after that.
It's worth noting that BMW just introduced its fifth-generation EV propulsion components, using cells with liquid-electrolyte chemistry. Those cells use a smaller amount of cobalt, in response to environmental and human-rights issues surrounding the mining of that mineral. Nickel has replaced much of that material, with the BMW iX battery pack using 50% recycled nickel, according to the automaker.
The new fifth-generation battery tech for BMW made its debut in the iX3 crossover—which BMW decided not to sell in the United States.
The Neue Klasse dedicated EV platform will launch in 2025, meaning models based on that platform will likely get conventional lithium-ion cells initially, transitioning to solid-state cells at the end of the decade.