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BMW claims Tesla is no longer ahead in EV range, battery tech


BMW is confident that batteries for its next-generation EVs will finally outdo Tesla in range.

In a recently published interview with Automotive News Europe, BMW Group production boss Milan Nedeljkovic said the automaker doesn’t see a gap to Tesla, and that the Tesla may in fact need to catch up to BMW once the German automaker’s sixth-generation batteries enter production with the Neue Klasse family of EVs starting in 2025.

BMW previously said the new battery hardware, highlighted by a switch to cylindrical cells, will target 20% greater energy density and up to 30% more range, resulting in up to 500 miles per charge (likely as measured on the more lenient European WLTP testing cycle), and 60% lower production-related carbon emissions than its current-generation prismatic cells.

BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept

The new cylindrical cells will have a diameter of 46 millimeters and heights of either 95 millimeters or 120 millimeters, according to the report, with higher nickel and lower cobalt content on the cathode side and increased silicon content on the anode side, according to the Automotive News Europe report. That’s quite different from Tesla’s choice of 4680 cells measuring 46 millimeters in diameter and 80 millimeters tall for use in the Semi and Cybertruck.

BMW is switching to cylindrical cells for both energy content and cost reasons, Nedeljkovic said to Automotive News.

“We looked at high energy compared with the production cost. High energy isn’t possible in a big cell. The cylindrical cell is the way to go, it’s our choice. It offers more flexibility.”

BMW Vision Neue Klasse concept

Tesla, Lucid, and Rivian all use cylindrical cells and have all led in range while others have struggled. Although it’s not the only piece of the puzzle for why others haven’t caught up, use of cylindrical cells is slowly emerging as an important one.

As BMW recently reported, production of sample cells is underway at its own facility. These will only be used for development, however. Volume production will be handled by CATL and EVE Energy at six factories, two each in China, Europe, and North America.

BMW is taking the opposite approach to General Motors. The U.S. automaker is betting on very large pouch cells in its Ultium EVs, although it has also said it will be flexible on battery cells—and that cylindrical ones are coming.



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