German carmaker BMW has started production of the all-electric i4 at its main plant in Munich. This means that BMW’s vehicles with all drive variants are now running on the same assembly line.
The i4 is an electric sedan the size of a BMW 3 Series, which company plans to launch in November, alongside its flagship iX SUV. The i4 is the first fully electric car to be produced in Munich, although the plant already produces the BMW 3 Series Sedan, the BMW 3 Series Touring – both with combustion engines and hybrid drive – and the BMW M3 and the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé.
According to BMW around 90 per cent of the existing production facilities in the Munich body shop can also be used for the BMW i4, despite its electric drive and high-voltage battery.
Nevertheless, is describes the integration of battery assembly as highly complex, “The battery pack is now bolted onto the body by a new, fully automated battery assembly system that works from below,” a spokesperson explains. “Fully automated, high-resolution camera systems scan it thoroughly beforehand to ensure the surface is absolutely clean and there are no impurities that could cause damage.”
BMW has invested a total of 200 million euros integrating production of the i4 into its existing production set up. Since embracing electric mobility several years ago, it has installed a new vehicle assembly line and a new body shop, and engine construction has been relocated to the other sites in the company’s production network. The production of the four-cylinder engines is set to move to sites in the UK and Austria at the end of this year, and the relocation of engine production in Munich is scheduled for completion by 2024.
“For the plant and team, the launch of the BMW i4 is a milestone on the road to electric mobility,” says production board member Milan Nedeljković, adding that, from 2023, more than half of all vehicles produced at the main plant will be electrified, the majority of which will be purely electric.
To coincide with the start of production of the BMW i4, the Munich-based manufacturer has also announced that transport logistics for the plant will be realised locally emission-free in the urban area of Munich within the next few years. To this end, BMW intends to increasingly switch to rail and battery-electric trucks. According to BMW, more than 750 truck deliveries are required every day for the delivery of parts. In future, these journeys will be made in urban areas using e-trucks. About half of the vehicles produced in Munich are already transported by rail. This share is to be successively increased.
BMW claims that CO2 emissions per vehicle it produces fell by 78 per cent between 2006 and 2020. By 2030, it adds, CO2 emissions per vehicle produced will be reduced by a further 80 per cent. The company says that it has concluded direct purchase agreements for green electricity with regional hydroelectric power plants – among others – for the production of the i4.