The BMW Group is investing around €200 million in its Munich plant in preparation for series production of the BMW i4 electric vehicle, which will be manufactured at the company’s headquarters starting in 2021.
The BMW Group is pursuing the strategy of producing fully electric vehicles together with plug-in hybrids and internal combustion engine models on the same production line in their plants, rather than building separate production structures for electric cars.
A future-proof production system has the highest degree of flexibility in order to be able to react to fluctuations in volume and market developments that are not yet foreseeable today.—Robert Engelhorn, head of the Munich plant
However, Engelhorn added, “Integrating an all-electric vehicle into an existing production system during production is a real Herculean task.”
The integration of the BMW i4 requires extensive measures, especially in body shop and vehicle assembly. The body concept of the vehicle differs significantly from the architectures of the models previously produced in the Munich plant. For example, the high-voltage battery of the BMW i4 in bodywork requires an almost completely independent floor assembly including rear triangle.
The task of the planning specialists is to design the complexly linked production lines so that the more than 1,000 robots can not only produce the bodies of the BMW 3 Series, 4 Series and M4 every minute, but also the special body of the BMW i4.
The integration of the BMW i4 also poses assembly challenges. And here too, among other things, the battery plays an important role. In order to be able to install the high-voltage accumulator in the vehicle, the planners have to accommodate extensive and space-intensive conveyor and system technology in the already cramped Munich workshop.
In addition, the BMW i4 brings a considerable amount of effort to the logistics and material supply of the plant. Many components of the i4 differ from the components of conventional vehicles. This in turn means additional component variants and thus an increasing number of goods flows to be controlled.
Since 2015, the Munich plant has also been preparing for the start of the seventh generation of the BMW 3 Series. To cope with the numerous innovations and the increased complexity of the new model, the BMW Group has invested more than €700 million in its headquarters in the north of Munich in the past three years, expanding the body shop and the assembly and building a completely new paint shop.
Parallel to the current run-up of the new 3 Series Sedan, the plant is preparing for the start of production of the BMW 3 Series Plug-In Hybrid in the coming year. The BMW 330e has several conceptual changes compared to its predecessor, which lead to significant consequences in the production process. The Munich plant is prepared for high demand; almost every third BMW from the parent plant can be a 3-plug-in hybrid, said Engelhorn.