Production of high-performance high-voltage batteries is crucial for a successful transformation to electromobility. The BMW Group is preparing its production sites for the Neue Klasse from 2025 – in line with the “local for local” principle.
The company is launching into a new era of purely electric driving with the Neue Klasse. Key success factors here are the range, charging time, durability and carbon footprint of the high-voltage batteries. The next battery generation will enhance charging speed by up to 30 per cent and increase range by up to 30 per cent. To be prepared for the profound change, the BMW Group is investing massively in its production sites and in the sixth generation of high-voltage batteries.
At present, the BMW Group produces e-components and high-voltage batteries for the current range of e-models at the Dingolfing, Leipzig and Regensburg sites in Germany and also at the Shenyang site in China. New assembly sites for our sixth-generation high-voltage batteries will be established in Debrecen (Hungary), San Luis Potosí (Mexico) and Woodruff near Spartanburg (USA), always following the “local for local” principle. “The close connection between the battery production facility and the vehicle production plant is part of our strategy,” explains Markus Fallböhmer, Head of Production for the BMW Group. This approach also safeguards production in the event of unforeseen political and economic events. It also strengthens existing locations, preserves existing jobs and creates new ones. The short distances reduce the carbon footprint in vehicle production.
Benchmark in automotive production: BMW Group Plant Debrecen
The first vehicles of the Neue Klasse will be manufactured at the Debrecen site. Battery and vehicle production will start in parallel. “The most modern plant in the world is being built in Debrecen. We are setting new industry standards in vehicle production there,” says Milan Nedeljković, Board Member for Production at BMW AG. As early as autumn 2023, the Debrecen plant will start a dual training programme in its own training centre together with local education partners.
Neue Klasse in Mexico from 2027
The company is investing €800 million in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, in a high-voltage battery assembly plant on the site of the existing vehicle plant ready for the Neue Klasse models to be built there. The first vehicles will roll off the assembly line in Mexico in 2027. “This investment will mean our plant in San Luis Potosí plays a central role in the BMW Group transformation to electric mobility. The company is strengthening its commitment to Mexico and to our plant,” says Harald Gottsche, President and CEO of the BMW Group Plant San Luis Potosí.
New assembly site for high-voltage batteries near Spartanburg
The transformation to electric mobility is also progressing in South Carolina. The BMW Group is currently investing one billion US dollars in preparation for the production of electric vehicles at the Spartanburg plant, and a further 700 million US dollars in the construction of a new high-voltage battery assembly plant in nearby Woodruff. At least six all-electric X-models are to be built in the USA by 2023.
Production of the Neue Klasse in China from 2026
To mark the 20th anniversary of the BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. (BBA) joint venture in May 2023, Milan Nedeljković, Board Member for Production at BMW AG, announced the local production of the Neue Klasse. Models of the next vehicle generation will also be produced by BBA in Shenyang from 2026. The high-voltage batteries required for this are also manufactured locally. The BMW Group has created an ecosystem for electromobility in China in preparation for the launch of the Neue Klasse and established the largest research and innovation network outside Germany with locations in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang and Nanjing.
High-voltage batteries from Lower Bavaria
The BMW Group also plans to build the next-generation high-voltage batteries for the models in the Neue Klasse range in Germany. This will be at the planned Irlbach-Strasskirchen site in Lower Bavaria. From here, the vehicle plants in Munich, Dingolfing and Regensburg are supplied with high-voltage batteries. “The plan is to ramp up the site gradually and create 1,600 sustainable jobs in the area of e-mobility, once the first construction phase is complete,” says Alexander Kiy, who is overseeing the construction of the new site. “These jobs will contribute significantly to achieving the goals defined under the Paris Climate Agreement and accelerating the transition of the automotive industry to e-mobility. In establishing sites in Irlbach and Strasskirchen, we are sending a clear, long-term signal that Bavaria is a great place to do business.” The BMW Group will also be providing apprenticeships with a guarantee of employment after successful completion.
Under the current plans, around 70 per cent of the necessary positions in Strasskirchen and Irlbach will be filled by BMW Group employees from existing sites. Today, around 7,500 BMW Group employees live within 20 kilometres of the planned site. The decision of the BMW Group to open a site at this location will also help retain and create jobs outside of the company. For example, the Group is currently planning to establish business relationships with around 1,000 suppliers and service providers from Lower Bavaria, around 120 of which come from the Straubing-Bogen district.