CATL's Tesla-beating 4680 battery goes to BMW in a multibillion deal for electric cars with 500-mile range
BMW announced that it has signed multibillion deal with the world's largest EV battery maker CATL for its superior round battery module that beats the 4680 cell that Tesla is using in the Model Y. When wrapped in CATL's cell-to-pack Kirin bundle, the units "can deliver 13% more power" than what's in the Model Y at the same footprint, along with other improvements in safety and volume utilization.
The move comes as BMW nets 4680-style battery suppliers for its NEUE KLASSE architecture push that will have multiple models built on it with cylindrical cells starting in 2025. BMW claims that the new batteries it intends to use will be 50% cheaper than the current generation of cells it uses, but that's what Elon Musk has been promising for the 4680 cells since Battery Day and Tesla is still only halfway there. According to BMW's Frank Weber:
The newly-developed sixth generation of our lithium-ion cells will bring a huge leap in technology that will increase energy density by more than 20 percent, improve charging speed by up to 30 percent and enhance range by up to 30 percent.
BMW cites a peak range of 625 km for its top i7 sedan, so a 30% boost would mean 812 km, or more than 500 miles on a charge with the new round battery packs. In any case, BMW has also signed delivery contracts with Eve Energy and plans to have no less than six factories in Europe, China, and North America churning out cylindrical batteries for its NEUE CLASSE electric vehicles by 2025. CATL, in particular, will provide 20 GWh capacity each to BMW from its plants in Hungary and China, and it is actively scouting North America for new production centers.
The new batteries, which come in two heights, will be brought up to 80% capacity in less than 30 minutes on the charger. BMW is also exploring cheaper phosphate batteries for its entry level EVs in the range, which CATL can also provide in a cell-to-pack Kirin form, but they offer slightly shorter ranges.
Last but not least, BMW assures that the batteries which it decided to source from partners instead of produce in-house, will be made with green energy and partially recycled rare materials like lithium, cobalt, or nickel.