Why BMW really decided to make batteries in the US
A new patent application that, if granted, will give BMW the rights to battery development in the US has been filed at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Based on our own analysis of the original patent, we know that BMW has the rights to use the process developed by US-based companies like A123 Systems (makers of the lead-acid battery) to make its own batteries. We’ve previously covered that the patent-pending idea of BMW was to use its own lithium iron phosphate battery cells for a future i3 or i8 electric car from the mid-2020s and beyond.
If I were a betting man, I’d have predicted the BMW patent to be filed in November, around the time it announced its battery production plans. That patent filing gives BMW the opportunity to license the battery production process it developed at A123, along with any other process that it builds around their patent for use in its own battery development.
A123 has been working with BMW for some time, beginning with a partnership between the company and the German automaker that began in 2000. According to BMW’s CEO, the battery partnership gives the company a huge advantage in its battery development efforts.
BMW has been working with A123 since 2000 and has been involved in the development of its lithium-ion battery technology for about 12 years, according to the company’s CEO Norbert Reithofer. BMW’s battery technology is based on the A123 battery process.
According to Norbert Reithofer, BMW uses a mix of its own engineers in its battery development efforts. With this approach in mind, he says, he doesn’t believe that BMW is taking their battery production process public.
“We are very, very comfortable with the fact that our battery technology is completely proprietary. There is no open-source technology in the A123 process, or in any technology in our battery development program,” he says.
Reithofer says that BMW has not applied for a patent on the battery design of its own.
With this approach, it remains