The best way to know if a legacy automaker is getting serious about electric vehicles is to see if they are investing in converting their current manufacturing capacity to electric vehicle manufacturing capacity. We recently reported on Daimler and Volkswagen making the move in Germany and BMW now announces that it is following suit.
Today, the automaker confirmed that it will build the first fully electric MINI in 2019 and a fully electric BMW X3 in 2020 at its Leipzig plant, while the upcoming “fully electric BMW iNEXT” will be manufactured at the Dingolfing plant in 2021.
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Several legacy automakers dabbling in electrification currently heavily rely on third-party suppliers to manufacture electric vehicle components. For example, LG is making for GM almost all the parts that make the Chevy Bolt EV an electric car.
BMW aims to incorporate more of the parts in its own manufacturing capacity. Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of the BMW Group, responsible for Production said:
“The BMW Group is a pioneer and an innovator in electro-mobility. We will begin producing the fully electric BMW iNEXT here at our Dingolfing plant in 2021. This decision will further strengthen our German production locations, which, with their innovation capabilities, play a leading role all across our production network. In the area of electro-mobility, in particular, our aim is to ensure end-to-end systems expertise within the company.”
The Leipzig plant, where BMW currently produces its only all-electric vehicle, the BMW i3, will remain the assembly plant for the German automaker’s current generation of electric vehicles to which an all-electric Mini and BMW X3 SUV will be added, while the Dingolfing plant will focus on the next generation of “iNEXT” electric vehicles.
Update: BMW specified that the production locations for the electric Mini and X3 have not been selected yet.
Though the plant already makes components for BMW’s current EVs, like high-voltage batteries and electric motors. The automaker says that it invested more than 100 million euros for electric vehicle production at the facility and “several hundred Dingolfing employees already work in areas related to e-mobility”.
Dr. Andreas Wendt, head of BMW Group Plant Dingolfing, commented:
“Dingolfing has a lot of experience and expertise in ramping up complex products – making it the ideal location for production of the BMW iNEXT. With its pure-electric drive train, larger dimensions and new technologies, such as autonomous driving and digital connectivity, the BMW iNEXT will be a real innovation driver. We are proud to have the opportunity to build this car here in Dingolfing. This year, we will be celebrating BMW’s 50th anniversary in Lower Bavaria. For me, the BMW iNEXT clearly signals the start of a new era and our intention to make the next 50 years just as successful.”
BMW unveiled several iNEXT concept electric vehicles over the last year – pictured above – and the sedan is expected to be the first to make it to production in 2021 with a long-range and autonomous driving capacity, but it’s unlikely to look much like any of those concepts.
While it took a long time for BMW to get its electric vehicle strategy in place, the company seems more serious than ever about the transition and even started holding meetings to warn employees that EVS are coming and here to stay.