Normality has not yet returned to the car factories, but in some of them, production is increasing. This is the case of the BMW battery factory in Leipzig (Germany), where the Bavarian firm has commissioned a second battery production line for the BMW i4.
BMW has just announced the launch of an access version for the electric i4, the new BMW i4 eDrive35. It is the most restrained version in terms of performance, less powerful and with a smaller battery than its brothers (the eDrive40 and M50), but also cheaper, which will undoubtedly help boost sales of the model.
To meet demand that was already good before the access version, BMW has launched a second production line for battery modules at its Leipzig plant. This new production line will manufacture modules for the BMW i4 in the same facilities where the BMW i3 was manufactured until June 30, the date on which the brand’s innovative electric utility vehicle said goodbye. The first battery production line at the Leipzig plant went into operation in May 2021 and is responsible for assembling the battery modules for the BMW iX.
This second production line occupies an area of approximately 4,250 square meters and has meant a investment of 70 million of euros. New jobs will also be created, with some 250 people expected to be working on the new line by the end of 2022, in addition to the more than 700 already working on the production of other electronic components in the same factory, such as inverters or chargers. on board.
The production of the batteries in this plant is divided into two stages: the production of modules and the assembly of these in the final battery. Module production is a highly automated process in which the cells first undergo plasma cleaning, before being coated to ensure perfect insulation. The cells are then grouped together to form larger units, the modules. Each battery module goes through a total of 196 stations before being ready for further processing. Subsequently, the finished modules are installed in an aluminum casing together with the connectors and the control and cooling units, forming the battery pack that is installed in the underside of the car.
The i4 battery in the eDrive40 and M50 versions is made up of four modules with 72 cells each and another three modules with 12 cells each, totaling 83.9 kWh of capacity. The cells are manufactured by Samsung SDI. In the case of the new i4 eDrive35, the gross capacity of the battery remains at 70.2 kWh, enough to homologate 490 kilometers of WLTP autonomy.
BMW plans to soon open a Cell Center of Excellence on the outskirts of Munich, a pilot battery plant where new technologies and their feasibility for large-scale manufacturing will be studied. As of 2025, CATL will be in charge of supplying the cylindrical cells for the next generation electric cars, the so-called ‘Neue Klasse’.
The work related to electrified vehicles does not end here, since from next year the successor to the current MINI Countryman. The new model will have fully electric versions (there will also be those with combustion engines) and will start to roll off the production lines from 2023.