Bavarian premium automaker BMW has announced it will electrify all of its German production plants and simultaneously push its combustion-engine production out of the country.
BMW announced today that it was in the process of retooling all of its German factories to build electric cars, rather than just gasoline, diesel and plug-in hybrid powertrains.
The move is a radical one, and signals the end of the beginning of the argument over whether combustion or electric vehicle power will ultimately win the personal transportation war.
For most industry observers, the move is seen as BMW protecting its German workforce by ensuring they’re hooked in to the growth powertrain of the future, rather than stuck with the declining one for the next two decades.
“By the end of 2022 all our German factories will make at least one fully electric car,” BMW’s Board Member for Production Milan Nedeljković said today.
The move, which BMW priced at €400 million, will even take root at its flagship Munich plant, within site of the BMW headquarters building that is itself an homage to the four-cylinder engine.
The flagship plant produces modular four- and six-cylinder engines. It also builds BMW’s V8 and V12 powerplants for its high-performance and luxury vehicles, though they’ll be moved to the Mini production facility in Hams Hall, England, and to Steyr, Austria.
Most of the €400 million investment will be headed to upgrade the enormous Dingolfing plant and the smaller Regensburg facility – all in the German state of Bavaria.
“We are capable of producing both vehicles with combustion engines and electric drive trains on a single line and responding flexibly to customer requests. This is a crucial success factor,” Nedeljković said.
“During the Covid-19 crisis, we have proved that we can respond swiftly and effectively to even highly volatile market developments and, at the same time, permanently improve our cost structure.
“The progress made this year will reduce our fixed costs by about half a billion euros by the end of the coming year.”
The move comes as the Premier of the German state of Lower Saxony has demanded that Volkswagen switch its local production to electric cars as the predicted decline of the Golf Mark 8 begins to take effect.
“The decision to build a new assembly at our almost 100-year-old Munich plant shows that transformation can secure, and even create, industrial jobs in the heart of the city – if it is approached strategically, and with courage,” the Chairman of the European and General Works Council of BMW AG, Manfred Schoch, insisted.
“This decision provides a model for successful transformation in the German industry.”
BMW’s model rollout plan for EVs has the Munich plant slated for the i4 electric car, built off the same CLAR (Cluster Architecture) platform as the combustion-powered 4-Series coupe and sharing its EV powertrain with the iX3 SUV.
“This architecture will be in use from the middle of the decade,” Nedeljković said.
“It will ramp up for the first time at our future plant in Debrecen, Hungary, before being rolled out across our global production network in stages.”
The plan involves a full EV to integrate into each of its next-generation model ranges, including the 5- and 7-Series (to be made in Dingolfing) and the subcompact EV iX1 SUV to be made in Regensburg.
BMW’s Mini brand will move production of its Countryman EV and combustion models to Leipzig (where Porsche also has a plant), while both Leipzig and Regensburg will be geared up to make lithium-ion battery modules to be fitted to at least 12 BMW EVs by 2025.