The Chinese giant CATL has just announced that it has reached an agreement with the German group BMW for the supply of cylindrical lithium batteries. This is the format that Tesla uses in its electric vehicles and it is a first for CATL which normally uses two other formats: prismatic and pocket batteries.
Reuters tells us that the Chinese battery manufacturer CATL – which notably equips the Tesla Model 3 Propulsion with its LFP technology – is preparing to deliver cylindrical batteries for future BMW electric models, from 2025. And BMW has precisely unveiled a new platform – called Neur Klasse – which will see the light of day in 2025 with the future electric 3 Series. If BMW refused to comment on the information to Reuters, it is clear that the new cylindrical batteries from CATL will take place inside BMW’s future electric platform and therefore within the next 3 Series.
CATL switches to cylindrical batteries, like Tesla
The most interesting information is the type of batteries that will be manufactured and supplied to BMW. CATL announces that the batteries will be of the cylindrical type, like the batteries that Tesla has been using for years in its Model 3, Model Y, Model S and Model X. Until now, CATL supplied batteries in the form pocket and prismatic form. It is this last form that is used in the LFP batteries of the Model 3 Propulsion. Tesla refuses to use pocket batteries because of the increased risk of fire and the difficulty in cooling the battery. The American manufacturer manufactures its own cells in cylindrical format for its other models, but they should however be different from those manufactured by CATL.
Indeed, CATL will formalize its cylindrical cells this year. According to comments made by the CEO of the Chinese group at the beginning of the month, the future cell – called Kirin – would have 13% higher energy density than competitors. We imagine that the man was then referring to Tesla’s new 4680 cell. Enough to make cars with even greater autonomy.
Each battery format has its advantages and disadvantages, but cylindrical batteries allow greater flexibility in the design of electric cars and above all an availability that seems higher. Cell cooling is also simpler, helping to maintain high power, whether for motor or recharging. Recent, powerful electric cars with a long range (Rivian R1T, Lucid Air and Tesla) use cylindrical batteries. However, it is necessary to qualify, because the Porsche Taycan uses… a battery in the form of a pocket, with nevertheless excellent performance!
Recycled batteries for future BMWs
BMW is actively preparing for the massive arrival of electrification in the range, as also proven the opening of a battery recycling plant in China. This company will be able to recycle cobalt, lithium and nickel from used batteries in order to recover these materials for the design of a new battery. The operation would make it possible to collect 90 kg of these materials in a 100 kWh battery in order to reduce CO2 emissions by 70% when manufacturing a battery. This will further reduce the CO2 emissions of the global car fleet. But we will have to be patient, because in 2030, only 11% of the batteries used by car manufacturers will come from recycling. Tesla, for its part, announces that it is able to recycle 92% of the materials contained in a battery. And this figure should continue to improve for all manufacturers, thanks to the development of recycling technologies.
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