The German premium manufacturer BMW has presented a particular version of its 5 Series Sedan and the all-electric i5 for the Chinese market. The China offshoots get a longer wheelbase, more space in the rear, and specific design and equipment features.
The 5 Series Sedan and the i5 for the Chinese market are produced at BMW Brilliance Automotive’s Dadong plant in Shenyang. The modified design features include gold accents all around, for example, in the outline of the BMW kidney grille, on the rims, and the window line.
On the European model, these details are in aluminum look or black. According to BMW, the stylistic preferences of a young generation of customers in China, who value inspiring charisma and individuality, have been taken into account. Market-specific changes to the drive technology were not mentioned.
Two charging ports
The charging technology is slightly different, however: since the Chinese charging standard GB/T provides other connections for AC and DC charging, the China i5 has a second charging flap: the AC port is likely to be placed on a charging port between the driver’s door and the front wheel. In contrast, the DC port is at the classic location in the ‘fuel cap’ of the 5 Series Sedan above the right rear wheel.
In May, BMW initially presented the ‘regular’ i5 and started series production at the German plant in Dingolfing in July. The market launch in China is scheduled for October; it may be a little earlier in Europe.
Round battery cells
The relationship between Samsung SDI and BMW in Hungary is tightening. As early as January 2023, there were rumors that Samsung SDI was planning cylindrical cell production for BMW in Hungary.
BMW is known to be building an electric car plant in Debrecen, Hungary, where series production for the first all-electric New Class vehicle will start in 2025. There will also be a battery assembly plant in the vicinity.
Samsung SDI plans to expand its battery cell factory in Goed, Hungary, this year to produce large cylindrical cells with a diameter of 46 millimeters. BMW will be a future customer for these cells. The South-Korean manufacturer will invest around €345 million in expanding the Hungarian plant, installing two additional production lines for round cells with a capacity of 10 GWh per year.
Samsung SDI is also expected to produce its cylindrical cells in a new factory in Malaysia. In its latest quarterly report, Samsung SDI stated that the production of 46 mm diameter sample cells has already started.
BMW commissioned Samsung SDI to supply cylindrical cells in the 46120 format (46 mm diameter, 120 mm length), which will be produced in Goed. Samsung SDI will allegedly also manufacture 4680 and 4695 cells there (with a length of 80 and 95 mm, respectively).
Chinese battery cell manufacturer Eve Energy will also build a factory in Debrecen, Hungary, to supply BMW with large cylindrical cells for New Class electric cars. The new cylindrical cells from Eve for BMW will reportedly have a 4695 format. In the future, BMW will use two cell heights for its cylindrical cells: 120 and 95 millimeters.
Round is in
Several manufacturers currently want to install cylindrical cells with a diameter of 46 millimeters in their vehicles. Besides BMW, these include GM and Tesla. Samsung SDI could thus have several well-known customers for its cylindrical cells. Another carmaker could join the list; Volvo could receive cylindrical cells from Samsung SDI in the future, but details remain scarce.
Samsung SDI is also working closely with GM. The two companies want to build a battery cell factory in the US state of Indiana in 2026, in which both prismatic and cylindrical cells with a high nickel content will come off the production line.
Just recently, Samsung SDI signed a letter of intent with Stellantis to build a second joint battery cell factory in the US. There’s no mention of the cell type so far.