Leipzig – The BMW Group Plant Leipzig has started operating its first cell coating line as it continues to expand its e-component production. The plant will add four more cell coating lines and two high-voltage battery assembly lines by 2024. The four coating lines are expected to begin operation this year at roughly two-month intervals.
“From 2024, our Leipzig plant will be capable of running the entire process chain for high-voltage battery production,” said Markus Fallböhmer, Head of Battery Production at the BMW Group. “This will be a significant contribution to the transition to electromobility.” To achieve its goal of electric vehicles making up at least 50% of all sales by 2030, the BMW Group is investing over €800 million to establish and develop e-component production at BMW Plant Leipzig.
The new cell coating system, located in the former production hall of the BMW i3, can handle over 10 million cells per year, or more than 2,300 per hour. The coated cells are then used in the battery module production line to make modules for the fully electric BMW i4 and BMW iX1. Another line at the facility is producing battery modules for the BMW iX.
The high-voltage battery production process happens in three stages: cell coating, module production, and battery assembly. The processes are highly automated, and cells are sourced from partners who manufacture them to specific BMW Group specifications. The cell coating consists of pre-treating and patterning the cell surfaces with a laser, plasma-cleaning, applying a two-layer coating, and conducting a three-stage quality control process.
The BMW Group uses blue cell coating, chosen for its role in positioning the electric BMW i vehicles and as the signal color of the range. Plant Leipzig, which produced the BMW i3 from 2013 to 2022, is a pioneer in electromobility within the BMW Group production network.
The battery cells are assembled into modules, which are then fitted into an aluminum housing along with control and cooling units and connectors. The size and shape of the housing and the number of modules depend on the vehicle variant.
The continued expansion of Plant Leipzig is driven by e-component production, which will occupy 150,000 m2 of manufacturing space in the future. “This is a long-term investment in the future of the Leipzig plant,” said Plant Director Petra Peterhänsel, adding that the expansion will create new jobs and secure current ones. “Currently, over 800 employees work in e-component production at our Leipzig site, and by 2024 there will be over 1,000.”
The next milestone for Plant Leipzig will be the production of the MINI Countryman successor, which will be available with combustion engines or a fully electric drive, powered by high-voltage batteries made in Leipzig. Production is set to begin at the end of this year.