BMW is looking to build battery factories

According to a media report, BMW wants to build five gigafactories for electric car batteries together with partners. However, the carmaker is still holding back on further details.

The news was reported by Manager Magazin with reference to statements made by Joachim Post, member of the board of management responsible for purchasing, at the annual press conference. “In future, we will also operate Giga Factories in the regions where we produce electric cars,” Post is quoted as saying. He did not give details beyond this sentence. With the term ‘Gigafactories’, Post obviously alludes to cell production – this term has become established in the industry, starting with Tesla and Panasonic’s Gigafactroy 1 in Nevada.

Since BMW has not yet given any further details, much is still open or speculation. For example, who the partners are, how far advanced the plans are for concrete projects, what BMW is investing and what production volume BMW is aiming for. One thing is clear: if the battery factories are to fit into the global production network for electric cars, the cell factories will not only be built in Europe: The BMW iX3 is known to be built (with CATL cells) in China for world markets.

BMW has signed supply agreements for battery cells with several manufacturers, including CATL, Samsung SDI, Northvolt and Eve Energy. Northvolt recently announced plans for a cell factory in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. It seems at least possible that BMW will become an important partner for the Northvolt Three factory – similar to what the VW Group has become for the Swedish Northvolt Ett factory in Skellefteå. There, Northvolt will produce the VW unit cell for premium vehicles.

BMW itself has so far pursued a strategy of not getting involved in cell production itself. The company does have a battery cell competence centre in Munich and is building a pilot line for battery cell production in Parsdorf near Munich as part of the IPCEI funding. However, BMW stated that it wanted to use the know-how gained there to discuss with the cell production partners on an equal footing – BMW does not buy battery cells off the shelf, but individually adapted cells developed by BMW.

At the annual press conference, BMW had also revised its EV plans upwards – “confirmed by the success of its all-electric models to date”. As recently as May 2021, BMW had stated that it wanted to achieve an EV share (both BEV & PHEV) of 50 per cent by 2030. With the current developments in demand, this is now also possible sooner. BMW is now targeting more than 1.5 million electric cars in 2030.


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