BMW is investing more than 100 million euros in the Leipzig plant until 2022 to be prepared for the increasing sales of electrified vehicles.
From mid 2021, BMW plans to start mass production of battery modules there. The high-voltage batteries for all BMW and MINI electrified vehicles have so far been supplied by the three in-house battery production facilities in Dingolfing, Spartanburg/USA and Shenyang/China.
"Just recently we opened the e-drive production competence center in Dingolfing and doubled the capacity for the production of high-voltage batteries with a further battery center in China at BMW Brilliance Automotive. Now we are also expanding battery production in Germany," says Michael Nikolaides, Head of Planning and Production Engines and E-Drives.
BMW has been producing the i3, the manufacturer's first fully electric vehicle, at its Leipzig plant since 2013. "Now we are bringing our expertise to bear in the production of high-voltage batteries. By 2022, more than 150 employees will be working in battery module production at the site," says Hans-Peter Kemser, Head of BMW Group Plant Leipzig.
From the battery cell to the high-voltage battery
The production of high-voltage batteries is divided into two production stages. In a highly automated process, the lithium-ion cells are first tested and then assembled into a larger unit, the so-called battery modules. The BMW Group obtains the battery cells from partners who produce them according to precise specifications. Depending on the vehicle concept, different battery cells suitable for the respective application are used.
The battery modules are then mounted in an aluminum housing together with the connections to the vehicle, control units and cooling units. The size and shape of the aluminum housing as well as the number of battery modules used varies depending on the vehicle variant.
According to BMW, this combination of standardized battery modules and housings flexibly adapted to the vehicle has several advantages: Firstly, it ensures uniform properties and quality standards in the production of high-voltage batteries. On the other hand, the modular design of the high-voltage battery is the basis for a wide variety of electric drive systems. And last but not least, this modular principle creates the prerequisites for being able to react quickly to customer demand and to take advantage of cost benefits.
As early as 2021, a quarter of the BMW Group's vehicles sold in Europe are to have an electric drive, in 2025 a third and in 2030 half. By 2023, the BMW Group wants to have 25 electrified models on the road, half of which will be purely electrically powered.