BMW is working to make sure that fitting battery cells into future models does not force it to compromise on its design. To achieve this goal, BMW Group r&d boss Klaus Froehlich said that the battery cells the automaker will use in its future full-electric and plug-in hybrid sedans and coupes will not be as tall as the cells that it will use in its electrified SUVs. SUVs usually ride higher than sedans and coupes so they can better accommodate taller battery cells, Froehlich said.
Being able to adapt cell sizes is one of the benefits BMW has gained from its new 200 million euros battery technology facility that opened on the outskirts of Munich last December. The facility will design battery cells and control software, but BMW does not plan to manufacture the battery cells in-house. BMW wants the multi-sized lithium ion cells to be ready for what it considers the fifth phase of its electrification strategy. That phase begins in 2021 with the production launch of the German brand’s full-electric flagship, expected to be called the i9. That model, which is currently known at the iNext, will be built at BMW’s factory in Dingolfing, Germany.
Last month, the automaker announced that another full-electric model would go into production at about same time. That model, which is based on the BMW i Vision Dynamics concept, will be called the i4 and will be built at BMW’s factory in Munich. The i4 and the production version of the iNext will be two of 12 full-electric models BMW aims to have in showrooms by 2025. Currently it only offers the i3.
The next electric vehicle for the group will be the Mini E due in 2019. A battery-powered version of the X3 SUV is due in 2020. Both of these models fall under phase four of BMW’s electrification plan as does a longer-range version of the i3 hatchback. The standard version of the i3, launched in 2013, and the i8 plug-in hybrid coupe, which arrived in 2014, marked phase three of the electrification push, the company said.
In 2021, BMW will begin launching models underpinned by two new vehicle architectures designed to accommodate internal combustion, plug-in hybrid and full-electric powertrains. The company is also changing its manufacturing footprint to adapt to demand for any mix of powertrains. BMW late last year re-confirmed that by 2025 it wants electrified vehicles to account for 15 percent to 25 percent of its global sales. At BMW, electrified includes battery-powered and plug-in hybrid vehicles but excludes 48-volt mild hybrids.
The two new modular architectures are called FAAR (short for front wheel drive architecture) and CLAR (short for cluster architecture rear wheel drive). FAAR will underpin front-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles while CLAR is for rear-driven and four-wheel-drive vehicles.
3 battery packs, 3 motors
The new architectures will house battery packs that offer different power outputs and driving ranges.
• The 30e pack will have a 60 kilowatt hour output and deliver up to 450 km of range under the new worldwide harmonized light vehicles test procedure (WLTP) standards.
• The 40e pack will offer 90 kWh and a range up to 550 km.
• The 50e pack will have 120 kWh and a range up to 700 km.
BMW Group’s new-generation plug-in hybrids will have an electric-only range of up to 100 km under WTLP, up from less than 50 km, Froehlich said. When it comes to electric motors, BMW is working on three new variants. Each so-called “e-machine” includes the electric motor, transmission and inverter. All three are being designed in-house and should be ready by 2021. BMW also plans to produce the e-machines itself.
The company declined to disclose the power outputs that the e-machines will provide but did explain how the set-up would work. One example would be having a large e-motor on the rear axle and a smaller one on the front axle that would only intervene when four-wheel-drive performance was needed.
BMW also plans to have high-performance EVs that will accelerate from 0-100 kph in less than 3 seconds but still offer a range of up to 700 km. This level of performance would come from combining BMW’s 50e battery pack with three e-motors with each motor delivering 200 kilowatts (equivalent to more than 268 hp) of power.