BMW Group is to increase e-component production capacity at its manufacturing base in Leipzig with another eight production lines by 2024.
Over the next year, the plant’s two existing battery module lines will be complemented by a further line plus five cell coating lines. These will be followed by two new high-voltage battery assembly lines due to go on stream in 2024. The batteries they make will power models such as the fully electric version of the MINI Countryman, which will also be built in Leipzig.
“The BMW Group has always been a pioneer in the transformation to electric mobility,” said Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member for Production. “We intend to remain the leader in the future. Plant Leipzig will be of special importance in this regard, as it’s the birthplace of the BMW i3.”
From 2013 to the summer of 2022, Leipzig manufactured more than 250,000 fully electric BMW i3 vehicles and over 20,000 plug-in hybrid BMW i8 sports cars. The freed-up spaces and the skills of its employees will now be used to produce e-components. More than 700 production staff are already working in battery component production at Plant Leipzig, rising to more than 1,000 by 2024.
“We are working consistently to advance the transformation to electromobility,” said Markus Fallböhmer, Head of Engine at E-Drive Production at BMW AG, “and we continue to develop our e-drive production network to make it happen. From 2024, the entire process chain for high-voltage battery production will run not just at Dingolfing but at Leipzig as well.”
Over 800 million euros invested in e-components at Leipzig
Between 2020 and the end of 2024, the BMW Group will have invested more than 800 million euros in establishing e-component production in Leipzig. In the future, this area of production will take up around 150,000 m2 on the site.
In the first quarter of 2023, the first of five new battery cell coating systems will go on stream at the Leipzig site, followed by another four systems which will launch in stages until the end of the same year.
The battery cells they will process will be manufactured by external suppliers working to BMW Group specifications. In terms of process, firstly, the lithium-ion cells will be plasma-cleansed before being coated by the specially developed systems to ensure optimum insulation.
After being coated, the cells are assembled to form larger units known as battery modules. In Leipzig this is currently being done on two existing module lines. A third is set to go on stream in the summer of 2023.
Once complete, the battery modules, connectors, control units and cooling aggregates are fitted into an aluminium casing. The number of modules and the size and shape of the casing depend on which vehicle variant they will be used in, so that each vehicle is fitted with the most suitable high-voltage battery.
In the future, Plant Leipzig will also assemble high-voltage batteries when two designated assembly lines go on stream in 2024.
BMW says it is drawing on its global production network to meet the increasing need for e-drive component production capacity. High-voltage batteries and battery components for electric vehicles by the BMW and MINI brands will not only be made in Leipzig but also in Spartanburg, USA, and Shenyang, China. At Plant Rayong, Thailand, high-voltage battery production has been localised with the support of a BMW Group partner.
Munich is home to the E-Drive Pilot Plant and the Battery Cell Competence Centre, which performs detailed analyses of the value creation processes in battery cell production and advances the relevant technologies. In the not-too-distant future the BMW Group will also be launching its Competence Centre for Battery Cell Production in Parsdorf, just outside Munich. Here, a pilot production system for the near-series manufacture of lithium-ion battery cells will ensure they can be mass-produced to quality, time and cost specifications.
The BMW Group manufactures its electric motors in the Competence Centre for E-Drive Production in Dingolfing and at BMW Group Plant Landshut. Casings for the highly integrated fifth-generation electric drive are produced in BMW Group Plant Steyr.