To cope with demand for the new Gen6 batteries, BMW plans six new battery plants in Canada, China, Europe, Mexico and the US. These will be located close to existing car-production facilities in order to reduce transportation needs.
There are financial benefits, too, as BMW estimates that the changes in battery design and manufacturing process will result in production costs falling by some 50% – a big saving, given that currently the battery accounts for around 40% of the whole cost of an EV.
Those same changes, which include a push towards completely renewable energy in all of BMW’s facilities and in those of its third-party suppliers, are also said to result in a 60% reduction in the CO2 created during production.
Recyclability is also a focus for BMW. Von Srbik explained: “We’re still aiming for a cyclical life with the metals in our batteries. We’ve even managed to achieve our first closed loop with one of our manufacturers in China. But overall it’s a very long loop. Batteries have a long life, and you have to think about a whole new industry in the meantime, but we can eventually get to a point where most if not all of the precious metals in our batteries can be from recycled sources.”
More detailed information on the potential environmental improvements from Gen6 batteries will be forthcoming with BMW’s “battery carbon footprint declaration” that’s planned from 2024 onwards.
Other battery technologies aren’t being ruled out but aren’t being confirmed either. Von Srbik confirmed: “We’ve investigated lithium ion phosphate batteries, but the energy density on a cell level is much lower, so for a highly integrated approach, it makes more sense to use this technology in lower-range vehicles.”