The BMW Group has set itself the goal of creating a closed and sustainable material cycle for battery cells. With a new pilot plant that will produce lithium-ion battery cells, the company is taking the next step in addressing all aspects of the battery cell value chain: from selection of materials, to battery cell composition and design, all the way to near-standard production and recycling.
The new pilot plant will strengthen our expertise in production of battery cells. We will be capable of testing new systems technology and innovative production processes. Our goal is to optimize near-standard production of battery cells from the perspective of quality, performance and costs.
The new pilot plant will enable us to close the final gap in the value chain from battery cell development, to production of modules and powertrain components, all the way to installation of fully assembled high-voltage batteries at our vehicle plants.—Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Production
The pilot plant will be built in Parsdorf, near Munich, and is scheduled to go into service in late 2022. The total project volume is almost €110 million and about 50 employees will work at the plant.
The German Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy is supporting the project within the framework of the European funding process IPCEI (Important Projects of Common European Interest).
The company just opened a separate Battery Cell Competence Center in Munich in November 2019, covering the entire battery cell value chain, from research and development to battery cell composition and design, all the way to large-scale manufacturability.
Assembly of the battery cell at the Battery Cell Competence Center.
The goal is to enhance battery cells’ performance capabilities and demonstrate large-scale manufacturability. To do so, the BMW Group will develop innovative production processes and systems, which will then be installed at the 14,000 m² pilot plant. Using production processes and systems also employed in standard production, the company will be able to demonstrate the industrial feasibility of future battery cell generations. The main focus will be on optimizing production efficiency, costs and quality.
Building on know-how from the Battery Cell Competence Center and, later, also from the pilot plant, the BMW Group will bring optimal battery cell technology to series maturity within the shortest implementation time possible and enable suppliers for battery cell production to its own specifications.
A quarter of BMW Group vehicles sold in Europe should have an electric drive train by 2021; a third in 2025 and half in 2030.
To make an effective contribution to climate protection, the overall environmental balance of all vehicle components must be improved and partners brought into the process. This applies in particular to energy-intensive production of battery cells for electric vehicles. Up to 40% of a fully-electric vehicle’s CO2 emissions come from battery cell production alone.
To develop innovative and sustainable battery cell technology, the BMW Group is working as part of a technology consortium with the Swedish battery manufacturer, Northvolt, and Umicore, a Belgian developer of battery materials. The collaboration is focused on creating an end-to-end sustainable value chain for battery cells in Europe, extending from development to production to recycling.
Northvolt will produce the battery cells at its own gigafactory currently under construction in Skellefteå in northern Sweden from 2024 on. Northvolt will obtain the energy needed to produce the battery cells exclusively from wind and hydroelectric power generated regionally in northern Sweden.
Umicore will contribute to development of a sustainable battery cell in Europe. Recyclable cell design is a consistent focus from the very beginning of battery cell development. Faced with rapidly growing demand for battery cells, recycling of battery components at the end of their lifecycle and extensive reuse of raw materials will be key to closing the materials loop in the best way possible.