MUNICH — BMW is developing a battery cell that promises to go farther, cost less and be gentler on the planet.
The new lithium ion cell will power BMW's next-gen Neue Klasse electric vehicles.
The so-called Gen 6 battery, under development at the BMW Group Battery Cell Centre of Excellence here, delivers up to 30 percent greater driving range than the current generation, according to the company.
A key to the performance is the battery cell's cylindrical shape, said Simon Erhard, who helps lead Gen 6 development at BMW.
While current BMW batteries feature prismatic cells configured in modules bolted together to form a pack, the next-gen design ditches the modules. Its new cell-to-pack design allows more power-packing cells to be squeezed into the same battery footprint. The Gen 6 battery has a diameter of 46 millimeters.
"Energy density is much higher than before," Erhard told a group of journalists at a media briefing this week. "You can put more cells into the battery pack."
Maximizing energy density also reduces battery weight and cost.
BMW said the new battery pack is 50 percent less expensive. That will be essential to achieving price parity with combustion engine vehicles, as the battery pack accounts for about 40 percent of an electric vehicle's cost.