Outgoing marketing boss Ian Robertson outlines BMW’s search for a “competitive advantage” in next-gen battery and electric systems
Most folk in the car industry seem agreed on the idea that the manufacturer who can crack the productionising of solid-state batteries will be in the box seat when it comes to making a success of the next generation of electric vehicles.
Among the manufacturers most determined to win the electrical race is BMW. The company’s outgoing head of marketing Ian Robertson is confident that BMW’s next-gen battery and electrical systems will give the firm a significant competitive edge.
“There will be a period where the battery capability will become a defining factor in choice”
“We believe that the next few steps in development will turn batteries from a commodity into something delivering more of a technical advantage,” Robertson has said.
As things stand, there’s not much to choose between today’s electric cars when it comes to range and performance. The pricing of vehicles is chiefly dictated by different aspects, but Robertson is of the opinion that car makers like BMW are on the point of breakthroughs that will change the goalposts in their favour.
“Ultimately, that advantage will probably even out again, but there will be a period where the battery capability will become a defining factor in choice,” he says.
“Today, car buyers will choose an engine based on different factors – its power, its economy, its refinement. Some are better than others, and there will be a period where customers will have a choice of battery performance in a similar way.”
BMW has been working for quite a while with Toyota on the development of battery and hydrogen technology. Toyota has already made a statement of intent in regards to its plans to have solid-state batteries on sale by around 2025. These batteries will have potentially greater performance than today’s lithium ion units, with the added advantages of being physically smaller and potentially less expensive in the medium term. The biggest issue will be bringing them into production, which Robertson admits will be “incredibly difficult”. He notes that they are already working in the lab, and describes himself as “confident” in BMW’s position at the moment.