BMW converts historic Munich plant to electric



Posted on Nov 18, 2020 at 6:02 p.m.Updated Nov 18, 2020 6:15 PM

The electric car market is experiencing the same boom in Germany as in France, and BMW is working hard to follow. The German manufacturer announced Wednesday, at the end of the day, a gradual investment of 400 million euros by 2026 in a new assembly line making a large place for electrified vehicles. It will be installed in its main factory in Munich, its birthplace. At the same time, the production of heat engines at the site will be gradually transferred by 2024 to the group’s factories in Steyr (Austria) and Hams Hall (United Kingdom).

The symbol is not thin: BMW, which has built its reputation (and its margins) on the quality of its combustion engines, has chosen to transfer part of the production outside Germany, to install electricity at the heart of its industrial stronghold. The group is methodically pursuing the deployment of its strategy, which has already focused on battery vehicles for several years.

25 electrified models on the roads in five years

BMW has set itself the goal of reaching sales in Europe by 2030, half of which are 100% electric or plug-in hybrid models. Vehicles of this type already represent nearly 13.3% of BMW and Mini registrations on the continent, and this proportion is expected to rise to 25% in 2021. This will make managers confident in reaching the targets for reducing emissions of CO2 set by Brussels, while competitor Volkswagen has already admitted that it will miss the boat and is preparing to pay a fine.

In 2025, the group should offer 25 electrified models on the roads, including 13 fully electric. Consequence, within two years, “Each of our German factories will produce at least one 100% electric model”, Milan Nedeljkovic, the group’s production manager, said in a statement.

The Bavarian firm intends to achieve this thanks to the flexibility of its production lines, which must be able to produce either vehicles with combustion engines or electrics, depending on customer demand.

More flexibility in production

The future assembly line at the Munich site relies on new production processes intended to increase this industrial flexibility. Techniques that will be deployed in all the group’s factories around the world in the years to come.

This new direction has an impact on workforce management, because the manufacture of electric cars requires less labor than thermal models. In Munich, BMW will have to retrain the thousands of workers who were dedicated to the manufacture of combustion engines. These employees will be redeployed to other units in Munich or directed to other sites in Bavaria, the group said.

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