The BMW Group is making a huge investment in a centre that will work on developing battery technology.
In its press release, BMW says it’s putting $200 million into the Munich-based centre, and it expects to hire 200 people for the operation, which will open by 2019.
The centre will be the focus of BMW’s battery research. At the groundbreaking ceremony for the centre, a Beemer bigwig said “We will be concentrating all our in-house expertise along the battery-cell value chain at our new high-tech competence centre. International experts working in the new development labs and facilities will conduct important research to refine cell chemistry and cell design. We will focus on further improvements in battery performance, lifespan, safety, charging and also costs. We will set the benchmark for the industry.”
In other words, BMW is getting really, really serious about its future in the electric vehicle segment.
From the press release, it seems BMW is mostly interested in gaining information from this venture, learning how to optimize battery structures, and the best ways to manufacture the batteries, but the end result isn’t necessarily manufacturing the batteries in-house. Another Beemer bigwig said “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.”
Of course, the focus of this centre will most likely be four-wheeled vehicles. That’s where the big money is. But BMW does have the C Evolution electric scooter, and we’d be very surprised if more battery bikes aren’t on the way. The EU is working towards eliminating internal combustion engines in the coming decades, and all the Euro manufacturers know they’ve got to prepare for that change when it comes.