The BMW Group is accelerating its ramp-up of e-mobility, and is poised to gain even more momentum with its next vehicle generation, the ‘Neue Klasse’. The BMW plant in San Luis Potosí, Mexico, will produce fully-electric models for the New Class in the future and is setting up its own high-voltage battery assembly for this purpose.
The share of 50% of the company’s worldwide sales of fully electric vehicles could be reached earlier than 2030. “We are systematically gearing our production network toward electromobility. In Mexico, we are investing 800 million euros in our plant and creating around 1 000 new jobs,” explained Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Production.
“The first cars of the ‘Neue Klasse ‘will come off the production line at our plant in Debrecen, Hungary, starting in 2025, followed by the main plant in Munich. We will achieve additional volumes by integrating the Neue Klasse at Plant San Luis Potosí from 2027 onward,” he continued.
After Spartanburg, Mexico
BMW Group only recently announced an investment of $1,7 billion in expanding its Spartanburg production site in the US. This includes one billion for preparations for the production of electric vehicles at the company’s US plant and 700 million for the construction of a new assembly center for high-voltage batteries in nearby Woodruff. By 2030, the BMW Group aims to build at least six fully-electric models in the US.
A further €800 million will be invested in Mexico. Of this amount, 500 million euros are earmarked for constructing a new assembly center for high-voltage batteries located on the plant grounds in San Luis Potosí. The new assembly center spans an area of 85 000 m2. More than 500 additional employees will work there, producing next-generation batteries for fully-electric vehicles.
At the plant, which went on stream in 2019, around 3 000 employees already produce the BMW 3 Series, 2 Series Coupé, and the new M2, in some cases, exclusively for the global market. The plant is designed to be highly flexible, ensuring only minor adjustments are needed in the body shop and assembly to incorporate the new vehicle architecture.
A special feature of the New Class is that the high-voltage battery is directly integrated into the vehicle structure. The assembly in San Luis Potosí is, therefore, being expanded to integrate this new process into operations. A second shift will begin at the plant in April, adding another 500 new jobs. A total of about 1 000 additional employees will then be working at San Luis Potosí.
Nedeljković again: “Flexibility and efficient processes are hugely important elements of our BMW iFactory, which forms our strategic masterplan for production.”
Plant San Luis Potosí is characterized by its responsible resource management and measures to reduce CO2. In such a dry region, conserving water is particularly important. The plant is also home to the BMW Group’s first paint shop to operate without producing process wastewater.
The water required for the painting process is treated and then reused. In addition, the plant sources only green power, which it generates itself at a more than 70 000 m2 solar power installation on the plant grounds, supplemented by electricity from an external solar farm.
The models of the New Class will use new, round lithium-ion battery cells developed specifically for what will then be the sixth generation of BMW eDrive technology. The new battery format will increase energy density by more than 20 percent and improve charging speed and range by up to 30 percent.
At the same time, CO2 emissions from cell production will be reduced by up to 60% as a result of cell suppliers relying on energy from renewable resources and, in the case of the raw materials lithium, cobalt, and nickel, using a certain percentage of secondary, recycled material.
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