BMW equips Steyr plant for New Class electric drive production

BMW has completed the new halls for the future production of New Class electric drive systems at its Austrian plant in Steyr and is now starting to set up the plant. Pre-series production is scheduled to start there in July.

Image: BMW

Around 300 machines and production facilities will have to be set up in the coming months so that pre-series production can start on schedule in July of this year, according to BMW. In total, the BMW Group is investing around one billion euros in electric drives at the Steyr site by 2030. In future, the Steyr plant will produce over 600,000 drive systems per year – in parallel with diesel and petrol engines.

The decision that the sixth generation of BMW electric drives would come from Steyr was already made by the Group’s management in June 2022. In December 2022, concrete preparations were then initiated to equip the engine plants for the electric drives. To this end, existing production areas in Steyr were converted and new areas were created.

The two new buildings – a two-storey production hall and a logistics hall – have now been completed. Two assembly lines for the electric drives, including the transmission components and power electronics, are being set up in the production hall.

For the sixth generation of electric drives, BMW is bundling most of the drive components at one location. In addition to the housing, the rotor, stator, gearbox and inverter will also be manufactured in Steyr. These drives will be installed in the New Class vehicles, which will be built in Debrecen from 2025 and in Munich from 2026 – more details on the model planning can be found in this article. The Steyr plant supplies the housings for the fifth generation of drives, which will be installed in the current electric vehicle models. Assembly takes place in the company’s own drive production facility in Dingolfing. As the current model series will continue to be built in parallel with the New Class for a few more years, Steyr will continue to build the housings for Dingolfing. BMW can produce over 500,000 drive systems per year in Bavaria, with a further 600,000 units coming from Steyr.

“The construction and installation of this production facility for Neue Klasse e-drives is running totally to plan. Now comes the next important stage, which is no less ambitious than the construction of the halls themselves,” says Helmut Hochsteiner, Head of Electric Drivetrains at the BMW Group site in Steyr.

According to BMW, the 300 production machines also include numerous custom-built machines – so there is little experience in setting them up, whereas other production robots tend to be standardised processes. “The 300 machines are all shapes and sizes, from small, individual items to the over 30 metre-long ‘marriage’ station. Here, four robots and other systems will work in concert to fit the transmission to the main motor,” explains Hochsteiner.

One machine has already been in the new production hall since the end of January. This “first resident” is a floor lifter that will lift the power electronics components from the first floor down to the ground floor in future. This is necessary because the inverters are assembled in the clean room on the first floor. After the projectile lifter transports the inverters to the ground floor – to the final assembly area – the marriage with the electric drive unit takes place there.

Drives from Steyr and Dingolfing

The Steyr plant is managed by Klaus von Moltke, who – like his predecessor Alexander Susanek – is also in charge of global engine production at BMW AG. “We are investing a total of more than 500 million euros in plant and equipment for Steyr, offering further confirmation of the BMW Group’s commitment to the site,” said von Moltke. “Series production of e-drives for the Neue Klasse is scheduled for launch in the autumn of 2025.”

BMW had ended combustion engine production at its main plant in Munich as part of the new planning for drive production for the electric future. BMW still builds combustion engines in Steyr and Hams Hall in the UK, and its electric motors in Steyr and Dingolfing.


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