A Battery Talk: Kurt Vandeputte and Peter Lamp on Battery Trends – and their view on the future of batteries powering individual mobility.

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Q: Mr. Lamp, we are here at the BCCC – close to the FIZ.
Everything looks very much like a High-Tech Research Facility. Where
does the BMW Group stand in terms of Battery Tech
today?
I believe we are in a very good position. Like
you said – we are here in our BCCC – close to the FIZ and we just
opened our CMCC (Cell Manufacturing Competence Center) in Parsdorf.
Combining BCCC for research and development of cell technology and
CMCC for understanding and establishing the industrialization of the
cell production with our experts from all over the world working
there, bring us on eye level with the best battery cell producing
companies in the world. Remembering our beginnings in 2008 with our
first MINI Cooper BEV prototype – we have come a long way.

…and why do you think you were able to make it to this level
of expertise?
I strongly believe that we have found
the right strategy for BMW very early. And this strategy is rather
simple: Develop the in-house competence in both critical fields:
battery cell technology and large-scale battery production as fast and
consequent as possible. And by doing this, enable BMW to put the best
battery into their electrified vehicles.

Q: Mr. Vandeputte, after more than 25 years at Umicore you
just started at BMW Group – what is your perspective on the BMW
Battery Strategy?
When I was at Umicore we appreciated
collaborating with BMW on battery technology, because of the clear
strategy focusing on deep understanding and mastering of cell
technology and cell production, as this is really the core of the
automotive battery business.
Looking at the challenges an OEM
faces today by the transformation of the industry – and taking into
account the BMW promise to deliver the Ultimate Driving Machine to its
customer: I believe the BMW approach is very convincing and clear.

Q3: And the step from a “material tech company” to a German
Premium Car manufacturer – how does it feel?
It
actually feels really good and energizing. Being part of this iconic
BMW family is an honor and the very welcoming attitude of everybody
for sure helps as well. Looking at the projects ahead the objectives
are exciting and challenging at the same time. Whether our focus is
battery performance, cost-competitiveness lowest environmental impact
or a combination of these, we need to find optimal interplay of all
materials in the cell, so this is back to active materials that I know
well. And I worked in a very international, technology-driven
environment at Umicore – and the same is true for my new role here at BMW.

Q: Mr. Lamp, talking about projects and challenges: what is
the next big step customers can expect from BMW electrified
powertrains?
A very significant step will come in our
NEUE KLASSE models in 2025. This will be the starting point of what we
call our Gen6 eDrive technology. At the heart of this technology will
be our new cylindrical cell: 20 percent more volumetric energy
density, 30 percent faster charging, 30 percent more range compared to
the respective model featuring Gen5 technology.

…but changing from a prismatic cell in Gen5 to a cylindrical
cell in Gen6 is a significant move: what triggered this
decision?
At the beginning of the process we really
started from a white sheet of paper and open to all cell formats and
sizes. But with the ambitious performance and safety goals we soon
came to the conclusion, that the cylindrical cell is the best format
for our next generation. Also it fits best our integration approach
for the NEUE KLASSE: cell to pack and pack to open body.

Q: Mr. Vandeputte, ASSB is often considered “the next big
thing”. Where does BMW stand? What is the potential of the
technology?
I believe we are on a very good path. With
our partner Solid Power we are establishing a new process development
line in our CMCC in Parsdorf. On this line we will work – in parallel
to our partner in the US – on the next steps to bring this advanced
battery technology in the car. This line will be up and running in Q2
of 2024. The potential of the technology is there: higher energy
densities paired with at least equal safety as today.
But
realistically speaking we will need some more years to mature the
technology and make it ready for industrialization – not before the
end of the decade.

Q: Looking at the automotive battery landscape today – very
often new trends or even innovations are discussed in the media. How
do you keep up with all developments?
KV: This is
actually a very good point – and at the same time something that I
have watched BMW doing for years: the close connection from the BMW
battery team to the Start-Up scene as well as universities – this is
in my opinion a very strong asset and an absolute necessity to be and
stay a technology leader.

PL: I agree, and let me add: I believe it is a very strong asset
in two ways. First, it ensures that we as BMW are in the loop in all
new trends, findings and developments. And secondly, it helps us to
find the best talents in the industry – this is one of many reasons
why we are very optimistic regarding BMW battery cell technology in
the coming years.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for this conversation.

In the event of enquiries please contact:
BMW Group Corporate Communications


Bernhard Ederer
Communication BMW Group Innovation,
Powertrain Technologies
Mobile: +49-176-601-28556
E-Mail: Bernhard.Ederer@bmwgroup.com


Almut Stollberg
Head of Communication BMW Group
Innovation, Design, Technology, Digital Car
Mobile:
+49-151-601-96543
E-Mail: Almut.Stollberg@bmw.com

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