The driving experience in a BMW EV will be totally unique.
BMW has clearly laid out its plans for the future - 12 electric models by 2025. We already know what some of these will be, including the iX3, i4, and iNext. BMW also plans to have EVs make up 25% of its total sales. There are still many details we don't know about BMW's future EVs and Stefan Juraschek, Vice President of Development Electric Powertrain, has decided to answer some of them in an interview.
The most differentiating component in future BMW EVs will be an all-new drivetrain. "The BMW Group is already developing its fifth generation of electric drive systems, meaning that it has created an excellent foundation for the future. This latest generation will go into service as soon as 2020 in the BMW iX3," said Juraschek.
"A crucial advantage of this fifth-generation system is that the electric motor, transmission and power electronics now form a single, highly integrated electric drive component. This extremely compact unit takes up far less space than the three separate components used in preceding generations. Its modular construction means that it is scalable, too, allowing it to be modified to suit all sorts of different installation spaces and power requirements," he added.
With this new, scalable drivetrain, BMW will quickly be able to decide which models to make an all-electric, plug-in hybrid, or combustion engine. "This will let us partially or fully electrify each model in accordance with market demand, creating the basis for the mass-market introduction of pure battery electric vehicles in the future."
Beyond the scalability of the electric architecture, BMW is also planning to fix one of the biggest downsides with electric motors - its reliance on expensive metals. With more automakers jumping into the EV segment, the price of cobalt, which is heavily used in battery production, is rising.
According to Jurascheck, "one of the key objectives of [BMW's] research and development activities is to bring about a substantial reduction in the proportion of cobalt in battery cells. The electric motor in our fifth-generation electric powertrain is another illustration of this, as it is completely free of rare earths." This could give BMW a massive supply-chain advantage over its competitors.
BMW also wants customers to feel a difference between its electric motors and competitors. "The customer may not be able to identify every characteristic of an electric motor, but a significant difference does become apparent in head-to-head comparisons. Probably the most obvious thing that the customer will notice is the speed up to which the motor can sustain its performance. A more indirect effect is that the vehicle’s range will drop faster if the electric motor operates less efficiently," Jurascheck explained.