BMW has announced that it will build assembly lines for the high-voltage batteries next to the new vehicle plant in Debrecen, Hungary. The first construction work is already underway, and production of the battery packs will then begin in parallel with vehicle production of the New Class.
As reported, the vehicle plant itself has been under construction since June 2022. The first models planned for the New Class are an electric limousine and an SUV the size of a BMW 3 Series. A full vehicle plant with a press shop, body shop, paint shop and assembly is being built on an area of more than 400 hectares in the northwest of the Hungarian city of Debrecen. The capacity is around 150,000 units per year.
When the first vehicles roll off the production line in 2025, they will be equipped with battery packs that were also manufactured in Debrecen. According to the Munich-based carmaker, 500 jobs are to be created in the new high-voltage battery assembly by 2025. However, the announcement only states that BMW will invest more than two billion euros in the construction and commissioning of the entire plant by the end of 2025. The Munich-based company does not specify how expensive the now-announced battery assembly will be.
What is clear is that the battery packs produced in Debrecen will differ from the batteries of the current BMW electric cars (with the “fifth generation” batteries). This is because, as is well known, BMW is switching from prismatic battery cells to round cells for the New Class battery generation 6. In addition, the batteries will be designed for a system voltage of 800 volts, whereas the current BMWs still operate at 400 volts. In addition, the battery packs for the New Class will dispense with modules and be built according to the “pack-to-open-body concept” – or “cell-to-pack”, as other companies call it.
In its communication on battery assembly, BMW does not give any further details on the packs, which will be built in Hungary. However, BMW’s board member for development, Frank Weber, recently did. The ready-to-install battery packs are to have an energy content of between 75 and 150 kWh, depending on the model. The round cells will have a diameter of 46 millimetres and will be 95 millimetres high in the sedans and 120 millimetres high in the electric SUVs.
It remains to be seen from which cell manufacturer the round cells will come, which BMW employees will then process into battery packs. BMW confirmed contracts with CATL and Eve Energy in September and with Envision AESC in October. CATL, at least, is close by in the truest sense of the word: the Chinese company is also building a large battery factory in Debrecen.
“In Debrecen, we are building the most advanced plant in the world. With our iFACTORY, we are setting new industry standards for vehicle production. Our investments underline our systematic approach to implementing e-mobility,” says BMW Board Member for Production Milan Nedeljković. Markus Fallböhmer, Head of Battery Production at the BMW Group, added: “The BMW iFACTORY is also about ensuring short distances for logistics. The close link between battery assembly and vehicle production is part of our strategy.”
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