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Four OEMs announce EV-related partnerships for software & charging

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Market Trends
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Volvo, BMW, Honda, and Nissan have all made recent announcements to tout improvements in either electric vehicle charging or manufacturing.

Volvo has partnered with Breathe Battery Technologies (Breathe) to become the first car company with access to the latest version of its patented, algorithm-enabled charging software for use on the automaker’s new generation of fully electric cars.

By integrating Breathe’s software into Volvo’s in-house developed battery management platform available charging technology is optimized and performance improved to provide faster charging times, Volvo said in a news release. 

The time to charge from 10% to 80% is expected to decrease by 15-30% depending on the battery pack type. Volvo says the charging time improvements will last for the full life cycle of the batteries without impacting their condition.

Volvo powertrain (Credit: Volvo)

The collaboration with Breathe comes from a sourcing agreement for its flagship product, Breathe Charge, and is the latest investment by the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, which is the automaker’s corporate venture capital arm.

The fund was established in 2018 to invest in companies and technology areas that transform the automotive industry, such as electrification, artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous driving, sustainability, and digital commerce, Volvo said.

Breathe is a London-based startup that develops battery management software for faster, better quality, and more sustainable electrification, according to the release.

“The investment and commercial partnership with Breathe helps us address a familiar pain point for electric car customers and makes our charging performance even more competitive,” said Ann-Sofie Ekberg, Volvo Cars Tech Fund CEO, in the release. “Faster charging times, in the range where customers typically fast charge, represent a major step in the right direction as we continue to boost electric mobility and make it available to more people.”

Unlike traditional stepped charging which relies on pre-determined rules, Breathe says its software uses adaptive charging to dynamically control the battery in real-time, resulting in significantly shorter charging times. Using algorithms, the software manages the charging process in line with the battery’s health to deliver the best driver experience while avoiding the risk of lithium plating, which can harm the battery’s performance and lifespan, the release states.

The partnership also will contribute to Volvo’s goal of net zero greenhouse gas emissions and becoming a circular business by 2040 because battery pack design won’t need to be changed or extra materials mined, thus decreasing environmental impacts, Volvo said.

BMW of North America has added Shell Recharge Solutions as a second eMobility provider to provide EV customers with easy access to Shell Recharge, ChargePoint, EVgo, EVConnect, and Blink charging stations via the My BMW App, according to a news release from the OEM.

BMW drivers can now find, access, and charge at all affiliated locations with automatic payment via the app.

Credit: BMW

Under the new agreement, BMW says EV drivers will have access to more than 100,000 public charging points in the U.S. and Canada.

Shell Recharge Solutions’ virtual Mobility Service Provider (vMSP) streamlines charging and eliminates the need to create separate accounts and use separate apps for each charging provider, according to the release.

“Charging is an important part of creating a positive customer experience for the owners of electric vehicles,” said Shaun Bugbee, BMW of North America executive vice resident of operations, in the release. “As a premium automaker, BMW’s goal is to also create a premium ownership experience for our customers, which means making the charging process as simple and convenient as possible.”

According to the release, Shell Recharge is a pay-as-you-go program so customers only need to add a credit card to their account for access.

Nissan and Honda are reportedly considering a partnership to produce key components for electric vehicles and AI in automotive software platforms, the companies said Friday, according to Reuters.

Nikkei Asia reports specific measures could include the introduction of a common powertrain, joint procurement, and the development of a common platform.

The potential partnership could help the two develop economies of scale in producing EVs as Japan’s automakers face heavy competition from China’s Tesla and others, the article states.

“Emerging players are very aggressive and are making inroads at incredible speed,” said Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida, during a press briefing according to Reuters. “We cannot win the competition as long as we stick to conventional wisdom and a traditional approach.”

Honda President Toshihiro Mibe said the OEMs signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding but haven’t determined the scope of the potential collaboration, according to the article. However, the automakers confirmed that cost-cutting measures will be explored.

Uchida added the companies are open to working together in any region. The companies haven’t discussed “capital tie-up,” but are open to the possibility in the future, Mibe said.

“We are strapped for time and need to be speedy,” he said. “In 2030 to be in a good position we need a decision now.”

Nissan also cooperates with Renault on EVs, mainly in Europe, according to Reuters.


Featured image credit: choochart choochaikupt/iStock

Nissan logo provided by eyewave/iStock

Honda logo provided by WendellandCarolyn/iStock

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