Heavy Metal: Volkswagen Adding More Nickel To EV Batteries. BMW Plans Electric 7 Series

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Frank Blome, head of battery cell development at Volkswagen, told analysts on a conference call recently that his company will increase the amount of nickel used in its electric car battery cells to 80% next year. At the present time, VW battery cells are 65% nickel, 15% cobalt, and 20% manganese. In addition to the higher amount of nickel, the new battery chemistry will include 10% cobalt and 10% manganese, according to a report by Reuters.

Blome did not indicate what company will manufacture the new battery cells for Volkswagen. At present, much of its supply comes from a CATL factory in Poland but it is partnering with Northvolt to build a new battery factory in Sitzgitter, Germany.

Electric BMW 7 Series Coming

Image courtesy of BMW

Just this month, BMW installed new leadership to guide the company into the future. Oliver Zipse is now the CEO and Frank Weber has taken over as chief technology officer. One of Zipse’s first official acts was to announce the next generation 7 Series — the company’s largest and most luxurious sedan — will offer an all electric powertrain.

According to Autocar, Zipse told attendees at the company’s annual press conference, “All [7 Series] drivetrains will be based on a single architecture and the top, most powerful 7 Series will be fully electric!” That statement suggest the twin turbo V-12 that currently powers the top of the line version of the 7 Series will go out of production. With 601 horsepower and 590 lb-ft of torque, it hurls BMW’s 2 ton sedan to 100 km/h in just 3.7 seconds.

If a heavier all-electric version is going to surpass those numbers, it will have to be a pretty awesome beast of a car. Since the current car is planned to go out of production in 2022, it is logical to assume the next version will start production the same year, but whether that means the battery powered car will be available at the same time is unknown.

Zipse says the company’s strategy means “different drive technologies will coexist alongside one another into the long-term.” EV advocates will bemoan such a mixed use plan. If the Tesla Model S taught the world anything, it is that any chassis designed to accommodate internal combustion engines and electric powertrains will necessarily require compromises that detract from the benefits of battery electric power. Whether BMW will be able to build a world class electric automobile with one foot firmly planted in the past remains to be seen.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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