Speaking with CarAdvice in Munich this week, BMW head of battery development, Andreas Raith, said talk of longevity issues is not backed up by field data.
“It’s not a marketing statement, those batteries are designed to last as long as the vehicle,” Raith said.
As for how long BMW considers the lifecycle of a car, Raith said “15 years and beyond”.
“We can prove that with the field data that we see today coming in from our existing fleet of plug-in hybrids… it’s fair to say and I think it’s a statement for the entire industry and community, everyone is so concerned about [battery] life time and the engineering community as a whole takes a very conservative approach to preserving those batteries.”
As far as Raith is concerned, all of BMW’s future pure-electric vehicles (EVs) are expected to have the same lifetime as those powered by an internal-combustion engine.
“BMW specification in case of durability is no different between combustion engines or battery driven vehicles.”
Unlike vehicles powered by an internal-combustion engine, Raith admits a battery’s ability to hold charge may be reduced to around 70 per cent of its original specification after 15 years.
Above: BMW i Vision Dynamics concept
“It’s still what is considered to be suitable, it’s still works right? It’s what is considered to be suitable in an automotive application. It’s hard to say how that translates into the performance of a conventional vehicle, maybe you lose a bit of power, maybe a bit of energy, but 70-80 per cent is kind of the expectations… field data proves we are staying well above that.”
Once the vehicle has had its turn with the lithium-ion batteries, they can then either be used in industrial applications or recycled.
“As soon as the [recycling] pipeline fills up, and it takes so many years to fill up, there is substantial value in those batteries.”
Raith said unlike personal devices such as an Apple iPhone, which has a mere three per cent recycle rate, electric vehicles will be very different.
“On the automotive side, we expect the pipeline to be pretty solid, and those materials lithium, nickel, copper, there is no toxic in there, it’s just metals and its very recyclable.”
BMW’s onslaught of electrified vehicles has already started with a range of hybrids. What's more, the brand expects to have 25 electrified models by 2025, of which at least 12 will be fully-electric.