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BMW Group and Samsung SDI expand partnership on electric drive batteries; i3, i8 and additional hybrid models

The BMW Group and Samsung SDI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to expand their supply relationship for battery cells for electro-mobility. Samsung SDI will supply the BMW Group with battery cells for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and additional hybrid models over the coming years.

The most important elements of the agreement are the increase in quantities delivered over the medium-term in response to growing demand for electro-mobility, and further technological development of battery cells.

In 2009, BMW selected SB Limotive, a joint venture between Bosch and Samsung SDI, as the battery supplier for its “MegaCity” vehicle—what would become the BMW i3 and then the i line. (Earlier post.) In 2012, however, the partners announced they were disbanding the joint venture. (Earlier post.) Samsung SDI bought out Bosch’s 50% stake in the venture; in turn, Bosch acquired SB LiMotive’s US and German subsidiaries.

Samsung SDI has developed a complete nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM) battery cell platform portfolio and is capable of mass-producing various advanced automotive prismatic battery cells including 5 Ah-Class for hybrid electric vehicles (HEV); 20 Ah-Class for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV); 60 Ah-Class for pure battery electric vehicles (EV) (used in the BMW i3); and 4.0 Ah/11 Ah “Hi-Cap” for Micro-/Mild-HEV.

The 60 Ah cells, in series production for European and US OEMs, offer the industry’s highest volumetric energy density currently, according to Samsung SDI. Similarly, the 20 Ah-class cells (26 Ah and 28 Ah) offer the highest volumetric power and energy density.

Samsung SDI is currently developing next generation batteries for electric cars together with the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC). USABC is a consortium participated by the US Department of Energy and top three US carmakers of GM, Ford and Chrysler aimed at developing high performance batteries to be installed in electric cars and hybrid cars.

According to Samsung SDI’s technology roadmap, its cells will offer and energy density of around 130 Wh/kg until about 2019, with the advent of an advanced NCM chemistry and energy density of ~250 Wh/kg.

One important factor in the BMW’s choice of Samsung SDI was that the company considers the suitability of lithium-ion battery cells for environmentally-friendly production and subsequent recovery of materials during product development.

BMW builds the complete high-voltage battery packs for the BMW i3, BMW i8 and other future hybrid vehicles on an assembly line at BMW Plant Dingolfing. The only supplied parts are the cells from Samsung SDI; otherwise the high-voltage batteries are developed and produced completely in-house, building on experience with earlier batteries developed in-house for models, such as the BMW ActiveHybrid 3 and 5 and the BMW ActiveE, with further optimization.

BMW said that the extension of the collaboration with Samsung SDI underscores the Group’s strategy of further electrification. Continuation of the partnership also confirms the success of BMW i. Customer demand for the BMW i3 remains high, the company says, adding that in the first half of 2014 the BMW Group has sold around 5,400 BMW i3 cars.

Deliveries of the BMW i8 got underway in the main international markets in June. Demand is already significantly higher than the planned production volume for the ramp-up phase, BMW said.

South Korea is also an important supplier market for the BMW Group beyond the partnership with Samsung SDI. For this reason, the company opened a local purchasing office in 2009. In 2014, the purchasing volume in this market will exceed €300 million (US$409 million)—a significant increase over the previous year, with sourcing volumes continuing to climb over the coming years. The BMW Group relies on a total of 20 South Korean suppliers. South Korea will be one of the key purchasing markets for the BMW Group in the future, especially for innovative IT technologies.

The BMW Group has operated its own subsidiary in South Korea since 1995. This commitment was expanded in 1998 with the opening of a logistics and training centre. BMW Financial Services has also been active in South Korea since 2001. On 14 July 2014, the BMW Group opened its only combined brand and driving experience center worldwide in the vicinity of Seoul airport.

In 2013, the BMW Group was market leader in South Korea’s premium segment for the sixth consecutive year, with the sale of 39,367 BMW and MINI vehicles—an increase of 13.4% from 2012. A total of 1,328 BMW motorcycles (+27.6%) were also delivered to customers. In the first half of 2014, sales reached 21,972 units (+19.3% compared to the previous year). BMW South Korea employs a total workforce of 230 people.



So it will take until 2019 for Samsung to edge past the specific energy ( not energy density, as the article claims, that is Wh/litre) of the Panasonics in the Tesla, which are around 140Wh/kg at the pack level and perhaps 200wh/kg or so at the cell level.

Musk said that he did not expect much improvement for several years either.

Battery technology is taking way longer to improve than we had hoped.

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