The German luxury auto manufacturer BMW will be investing €200 million (~$237 million) into the development of a new battery cell technology competence center over the next 4 years, company execs revealed on Friday.
The plan is reportedly for the new battery cell research and development center to open in or by early 2019 — and presumably to serve as part of the company’s larger push to accelerate its development of plug-in electric vehicles (and arguably to catch up to rival luxury auto manufacturer Tesla).
BMW board member Oliver Zipse commented on the matter in a public statement (quoted here courtesy of Reuters): “By producing battery-cell prototypes, we can analyze and fully understand the cell’s value-creation processes. With this build-to-print expertise, we can enable potential suppliers to produce cells to our specifications.”
“The knowledge we gain is very important to us, regardless of whether we produce the battery cells ourselves, or not,” he continued.
Well, if the company is to retain any significant market share in the segments in which it is competing with Tesla (the upcoming Tesla Model 3 versus BMW 3 Series battle comes to mind), then such knowledge will be a necessity. The need to avoid being left in the dust by the battery tech of larger firms is, of course, also no doubt a factor — Toyota’s claims that it will achieve commercially viable solid-state EV batteries within just the next few years come to mind.
All of that said, it may be worth not getting your hopes up too much about real-world applications of whatever tech might be developed at the new research center, going on BMW’s track record to date concerning electric vehicles. Let’s count the fully electric vehicles it has brought to market. There’s the BMW i3. And … well, I guess that’s it.
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