China – The new facility will supply the nearby Dadong vehicle factory, which is operated by the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture and will soon produce the 5 Series plug-in hybrid for the local market. It is the first battery factory of any premium vehicle-maker in the country, and the third in BMW’s production network after sites in Germany and the US.
“By 2025, we expect our electrified BMW and Mini models to account for between 15% and 25% of global sales. This adds up to several hundred thousand vehicles per year,” commented Oliver Zipse, BMW’s member of the board of management with responsibility for Production. “It therefore makes sense for us to integrate electro-mobility into the existing production system.” The OEM now makes electrified vehicles at ten locations worldwide, with battery plants at Dingolfing in Germany and Spartanburg in South Carolina, plus Shenyang.
The company said that in-house production of the battery, the key component of an electrified vehicle alongside the electric motor, provides “a decisive competitive advantage by securing know-how in new technologies, gaining key systems expertise and leveraging cost benefits”.
Production at the battery plants involves two main stages. In a highly automated process, lithium-ion cells are checked and combined in a larger battery module. Then the module is mounted with connections, control units and cooling units in an aluminium housing. The number of modules used, as well as the size and shape of the housing, are adjustable to the vehicle variant.
BMW says that this modular concept is “a requirement” for responding rapidly to customer demand and leveraging cost benefits. Meanwhile, uniform quality is maintained by the standardised components of the modules.
From January to September this year, BMW Group delivered 68,687 BMW i, BMW iPerformance and electrified Mini vehicles worldwide and is aiming to reach 100,000 by the end of 2017. The OEM currently offers nine electric vehicles and plans to introduce 25 by 2025.