Collaborative R&D Competitions

Driving innovation: BMW pioneers next-generation BEV technology

@FutureBEV focused on delivering mainstream, competitive EV powertrains, both in function and cost, simultaneously fostering a new domestic supply chain for subcomponents and system capability, enabling the UK’s transition to future electromobility.  

The project used Silicon Carbide (SiC) converters working at 800V, rather than the typical 400V, to allow faster charging, higher performance, and greater efficiency. It also focused on increasing reliability and bringing down manufacturing costs. David Bock, Project Technical Lead at BMW, said “If you can make the parts simpler, you reduce the cost, you improve the reliability and you make it more accessible. And that was very important in the project.”  

The project marked BMW’s transition to SiC-based power electronics in its future generations of Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and laid the foundation for 100kW/l inverters, significantly exceeding industry targets.  

The collaborative project not only delivered from an R&D perspective, but helped strengthen the UK supply chain in this emergent technology. As part of the consortium, academic and SME partners were able to demonstrate UK R&D capabilities, which impressed the BMW team in Munich. As a result of the project, the University of Warwick has built a world-leading testing facility for power electronics and attracted interest from other OEMs, such as JLR. Custom Interconnect, which manufactures the inverter and power module, was also able to attract new customers thanks to its involvement on the project. The design for the inverter was created by Lyra and Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult, strengthening the supply chain for power electronics in the UK.  

The project has also been a platform for graduates and interns to develop their knowledge of power electronics, helping to build up their expertise for future roles and grow the industry. 

@FutureBEV was a £26 million project which received £13 million in government grant funding through the Advanced Propulsion Centre UK. 

Watch the video above to learn more about this project and its impacts.