BMW is planning to build a large assembly plant for high-voltage batteries in Bavaria. The carmaker confirmed the plan in essence, but has not yet signed all the contracts. If all goes as planned, the excavators should start rolling in 2024.
From the new factory, “all Bavarian plants, i.e. Munich, Regensburg and Dingolfing, will be supplied with high-voltage batteries”, as a BMW spokesperson confirms information from the German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung. BMW is “on the home straight with the search for a location” and is holding “final talks with the owners”. According to the company spokesperson, series production at the battery factory is scheduled to start in 2026. Therefore, construction work would have to start at the beginning of 2024.
The planned start of operation of the new assembly plant in 2026 indicates that round cells for electric cars of the New Class will be assembled into packs there. BMW had already confirmed that it would use round cells in its new electric cars from 2025 and has commissioned CATL and Eve Energy to build two gigafactories each in Europe and China. The corresponding CATL plant is being built in Debrecen, Hungary, where BMW plans to build the first models based on the New Class in a new plant – a dedicated high-voltage assembly line is currently being built there to supply the vehicle plant with battery packs.
For the BMW vehicle plants in Bavaria, the battery assembly is to be assembled into packs centrally in a large assembly plant rather than in smaller facilities in the vehicle plants themselves. This would also simplify the logistics flows if the battery cells from Hungary were only delivered to the new assembly plant and the packs distributed from there to the vehicle plants. Irlbach is located directly on the B8 and is thus connected to the vehicle plants either directly or via the B20, A92 or A3.
160 hectares under consideration
While the spokesman does not give any further details with reference to the still ongoing search for a location, according to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” there is open talk about Irlbach “among local politicians and in agricultural circles in the region”. Armin Soller, mayor of the town with 1,200 inhabitants, confirmed to the newspaper: “We are in the running, even if nothing has been signed yet.”
In a tender to which Bavarian municipalities could apply, BMW had been looking for an area of “50 to over a hundred hectares”, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung. However, according to the report, a total of 160 hectares are being negotiated in Irlbach. The BMW plant in Dingolfing, which is currently the largest BMW site in Europe with 280 hectares, is used as a size comparison. But: the new vehicle plant for the New Class in Debrecen is to cover an area of 400 hectares.
The possible location of the high-voltage assembly plant is not without its critics, however: the large halls of the BMW logistics warehouse on the A 92 near Wallersdorf, which opened five years ago, have already been seen as a “symbol par excellence of the immense land consumption in Lower Bavaria as a result of commercial and industrial settlements”. Wallersdorf, however, with 23.5 hectares, is much smaller than the area under discussion in Irlbach. It is seen particularly critically that some of the large industrial halls have been built on fertile farmland.
According to information in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the neighbouring town of Gottfrieding in Dingolfing was initially the favourite for the contract – with an even shorter connection to the large BMW plant, where not only the electric drives but also models such as the iX or i7 are built. But this has come to nothing, as the possible area in Gottfrieding belongs to a total of 45 landowners who would only have sold their land in protracted negotiations and individual compromises. According to BMW, the district administrator in charge, this would have taken too long in view of the tight schedule. In Irlbach, the situation is apparently different: according to the report, the car manufacturer is negotiating with only one landowner.
sueddeutsche.de (in German)
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