German carmaker BMW further invests in its production of electric vehicles and adds a new logistics center for handling high-voltage battery packs to its Leipzig factory, where its first electric vehicle, the BMW i3 is phased out in July 2022. The MINI Countryman crossover is the following fully electric model to be built there.
Today, around 1 000 vehicles roll off the production line in Leipzig daily: the BMW 1 Series, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé, and the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer. Next, Leipzig produces electric components and has high-voltage battery assembly lines, delivering one out of three battery packs for BMW EVs.
Birthplace of BMW i3
Leipzig is the birthplace of the BMW i3. From 2013 to the summer of 2022, this BMW plant manufactured over 250 000 fully electric BMW i3s and some 20 000 plug-in hybrid BMW i8 sports cars. In July 2022, production stopped to prepare for the conversion of the plant for assembly of future electric models, the Mini Countryman EV to begin with.
As the i3 was based on a stand-alone platform with an aluminum chassis and carbon fiber passenger cell, the production facilities for the Countryman had to be rebuilt based on BMW’s FAAR front-wheel-drive architecture (developed initially for ICE cars).
High production costs
A more unofficial but essential reason for the end of the i3 is its production cost. The carbon-fiber structure has remained very expensive to produce, so BMW didn’t make much money on the i3 despite its hefty price tag. It may have been an icon and the first full-electric BMW, but now it seems time to go.
Despite the different body concept, BMW sees the iX1 as the successor of the i3. The iX1 will be built at a new production facility in Debrecen, Hungary. However, due to construction delays, it will now be produced at the BMW plant in Regensburg until 2024. Leipzig is delivering the iX1’s battery modules.
Breaking ground for new Supply Center
Last week, BMW broke ground on a new plot next to the existing factory, consisting of 12 hectares in total, eight of which will be built in the first stage of construction. A new logistics hall for the current fifth-generation high-voltage batteries is planned and an office building, both of which will be completed by mid-2024.
In total, BMW is investing €100 million in this Leipzig Supply Center North for high-voltage batteries, which will offer jobs for an additional 500 employees when the second construction phase is completed. They will add to the current core workforce of around 5 600 employees.
Solar panels and green rooftops
For further ‘greening’ the industrial site, BMW will power the buildings with solar panels on the roof of the logistics halls and a green roof on top of the office building. Trees at strategic points along the façade will keep indoor temperatures cool when the weather outside is hot.
The outside space, BMW says, will be landscaped with over 5,700 new shrubs and trees. With this, BMW Group wants to continue its efforts to add to the green ring around the plant on the Northern Industrial Estate. Outdoor areas will be illuminated by insect-friendly lights, and parking spaces will be equipped with electric charging points for cars and trucks.
In the Leipzig plant, more than 800 employees currently work in e-component production, rising to over 1 000 by 2024. From next year, BMW Plant Leipzig will run all three stages of the high-voltage battery production process: cell coating, module production, and high-voltage battery assembly. So far, BMW says it is investing up to 1 billion euros in extending e-component production at Leipzig.