The battery order of approximately 160GWh that BMW tendered at the beginning of the year has finally come to light.
Multiple industry insiders have revealed that Svolt has secured an order for nearly 90GWh of production capacity from BMW in Europe, while domestic orders for nearly 70GWh will be provided by CATL or EVE Energy. If the price per watt-hour is estimated at 0.6 yuan, the value of this order from BMW would reach 96 billion yuan, exceeding 10 billion euros.
BMW has previously established strategic partnerships with CATL and EVE Energy for large cylindrical batteries, so it is reasonable to add additional orders this time. However, it is understood that the nearly 70GWh order given to these two companies is not limited to cylindrical batteries.
And another emerging supplier, Svolt, is quite surprising. Svolt, developed from the Battery Unit of Great Wall Motors, was established in 2018 and headquartered in Changzhou, Jiangsu province and has become a rising star in the power battery industry in the past two years. Its main customers are Great Wall Motors, Leapmotor, and other automakers. Recently, it has gained fame in the battery industry for successfully supplying batteries for models such as the Li L7, Geely Galaxy EVs, and LYNK&CO PHEVs.
According to reports, Svolt will initially plan two battery cell production lines for BMW, as well as supporting module and pack production lines. The supplied battery cell type is the flagship product of Svolt – the short blade battery cell. These battery cells will be used in BMW’s new generation electric vehicle models using CTP mode.
As a rare European traditional car manufacturer with a deep understanding of battery cell characteristics and small-scale production capabilities, BMW has always had its own set of patterns when it comes to choosing battery cells.
In 2022, BMW has selected three battery suppliers to produce 46-series large cylindrical batteries, with a total planned capacity of 110GWh. Following Tesla, BMW has become the only automaker that is so devoted and committed to large cylindrical batteries. The entire industry can feel BMW’s resolute commitment to battery technology.
Some battery industry insiders have commented that BMW’s goal has always been to push for standardized production of battery cells.
Car companies will not allow technological disparities in the batteries they adopt, and naturally they will not put their technological choices in one basket. This time, BMW has once again placed a sky-high order and allocated most of its production capacity to Honeycomb Energy, which excels in short-blade battery cells. It seems to confirm that the short-blade shape is the optimal solution for BMW’s standardized production of square-shaped battery cells.
The battery manufacturing technology can be divided into two routes: winding and stacking. Winding technology has been widely used in the battery industry for more than a decade, with mature processes mainly applied to cylindrical and square cells. On the other hand, stacking technology was gradually introduced into power battery manufacturing starting from 2018, primarily used for square and pouch cells.
Svolt employs a more challenging flying stacking technique in the production of short knife battery cores, using eight workstations to stack the sheets simultaneously, achieving a comprehensive efficiency of 0.125S/pcs.
The flying stack production line at the Svolt Yancheng Factory mainly produces L400 short-circuit battery cells with a capacity of 62Ah. In comparison, LG supplies Tesla with 21700 battery cells with a capacity of 5Ah, which means that one L400 short-circuit battery cell is equivalent to 12 units of the 21700 battery cells.
According to production efficiency, if the 21700 battery can achieve a production speed of 300PPM (number of batteries produced per minute), it is equivalent to the 25PPM production speed of the Svolt L400 battery. Both can produce batteries with a capacity of around 1500Ah in one minute. The production line design capacity of Svolt’s Yancheng base is 24PPM, which is already close to the production efficiency of cylindrical batteries.
Of course, achieving such high production efficiency for square-shaped battery cells poses a great challenge in terms of yield and consistency control. The arrival of BMW may help advance the stacking technology in this aspect.
The battery company receiving orders from BMW not only means guaranteed shipment volume, but more importantly, it will also comply with BMW’s stringent production specifications and standards.
At the beginning of CATL’ establishment, its famous battle for recognition lasted two years and involved digesting over 800 pages of German technical production documents provided by BMW. This laid the foundation for a standardized and efficient power battery production system. Subsequently, renowned clients such as Zhengzhou Yutong Group Co., Ltd. came one after another, increasing their procurement quotas year after year.
If this BMW order is successfully delivered, the biggest beneficiaries may be Svolt and EVE Energy, both of which are second-tier battery manufacturers. The gold-standard reputation that withstands BMW’s quality test will also become the key to unlocking more customer markets.