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

+++ Both battery experts sat down for an interview at BMW Groups Battery Cell Competence Center (BCCC) +++ Kurt Vandeputte joined BMW Group on Nov 1st, taking over the role of GM Battery Technology +++ Peter Lamp will stay onboard until the Launch of Gen6 technology +++

Mobility of the future

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BMW Group

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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

Almut Stollberg
Head of Communication BMW Group Innovation, Design, Technology, Digital Car
Mobile: +49-151-601-96543

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