BMW is to further expand its Germany-based production capacity for electric drive systems. The company has announced that from 2021, its Leipzig plant will produce battery modules for its vehicles, and by 2022, it will have invested €100m (US$118.7m) into the site to prepare for increasing sales of EVs.
Michael Nikolaides, head of planning and production engines and e-drives at BMW, explained, “We are consistently ramping up the production of e-drives to meet our ambitious electric mobility targets. Just recently, we opened our Competence Center for E-drive Production in Dingolfing and doubled the production capacity for high-voltage batteries at BMW Brilliance Automotive in China by opening another battery center. Now we are also stepping up our battery production output in Germany.”
Large-series production of battery modules at the Leipzig site is scheduled to start as early as mid-2021. The Leipzig site is the e-mobility pioneer among the BMW Group’s plants: as the production site of the BMW i3, the BMW Group’s first all-electric vehicle, it has been involved in electric mobility since 2013.
BMW’s production process for high-voltage batteries consists of two main steps: first, the battery cells are tested, and then assembled into larger units, the battery modules, in a highly automated process. BMW procures the battery cells from partners who produce them according to its requirements, using different battery cells and suppliers depending on the application.
The standardized battery modules are then mounted into an aluminum casing along with the vehicle connectors, control units and cooling units. The size and shape of the aluminum casing as well as the number of battery modules used varies depending on the vehicle variant.
BMW notes that this combination of standardized battery modules and casings flexibly adapted to the vehicle has several advantages. Firstly, it ensures uniform properties and quality standards in the production of the high-voltage batteries; and secondly, the modular design of the high-voltage battery serves as the basis for a wide range of e-drive variants. Last but not least, this modular approach is a crucial prerequisite for being able to respond quickly to customer demand and take advantage of cost savings.
To date, the high-voltage batteries for all electrified vehicles of the BMW and MINI brands have been produced at three in-house battery production facilities in Dingolfing, Germany; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Shenyang, China.