BMW says that while the current design of electric motors across the world’s various brands may not be as varied as with internal combustion engines (ICE), its investment in battery technology and integrated electric motor units will see it step ahead of the competition in the years to come.
The German brand has invested heavily in not only designing and manufacturing its own batteries (bar the cells themselves), via a battery competency centre in Germany, but is indeed designing its entire electric mobility future in-house.
This sees engineers working on the integration of electric drivetrains from the ground up, designing the motors, batteries and all the bits in between. BMW’s engineers tell us this will set the brand apart from competitors that may be using generic major components from manufacturers like Bosch, in the years to come.
Speaking to CarAdvice in Munich this week on the brand’s electric future, the head of BMW’s powertrain concepts, Andres Wilde, said the emotional appeal of BMW’s current engineering finesse will be carried through with its electric vehicles.
“I am optimistic that this is a good start,” Wilde told CarAdvice as he showed off the brand’s integrated electric motor and transmission module.
“It’s a very special technology. Delivers very high power and high speeds. [The difference between electric motors] is not so much as in the ICE, but also in electro motors there is a lot of stuff to develop in terms of efficiency and packaging and how much place you need to rise up the kilowatts.”
According to Wilde, the race winner for developing the best electric motor is still far from decided, with plenty of room for technical improvement – not just in terms of power and torque delivery, but also packaging and efficiency.
This all but lays to rest fears that all electric motors will be roughly the same – serving as an equaliser across all brands and taking away distinct and unique characteristics currently found with ICE across the industry.
But it’s not just the motors, the battery technology will also be a deciding factor in EV supremecy, according to Wilde.
“Second part in the differentiation for the future, is the battery… therefore BMW decided to invest a lot of money in battery technologies.”
Perhaps more intriguing of all, the brand is going through an internal debate as to how to tackle the issue of sound from its EVs. Having already dabbled with artificial sound enhancers in numerous BMW M vehicles, the requirement both legally and emotionally, to provide a powertrain noise from its EV is an ongoing issue.
“We are working on that… [actually] in the laboratory last week. It’s hard to describe, I cannot sing it. It’s not so easy to keep this sound from a six- or eight-cylinder.
“It’s positive for the electric cars because they have no sound, except bad sound… we have to do a lot of stuff to find what is the exact characteristics and emotional experience in an electro car, therefore lot of studies going on right now. [In] the near future we can show you some first exercises, experiences.”
BMW’s onslaught of electric cars is set to begin in the coming years, with the German brand expected to have 25 electrified models by 2025, of which at least 12 will be fully electric without an ICE.