BMW's Spartanburg plant invests $10m to double EV battery production

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 24 Jul 2019

German luxury carmaker is eyeing a bigger play in the electric mobility space. The company today announced that the BMW Group Plant in Spartanburg in the US state of South Carolina, has doubled its capacity for production of high-voltage batteries.

The plant’s own battery facility now produces the new fourth-generation batteries, which are intended for the plug-in hybrid models of the new BMW X5 and the future BMW X3, also produced in Spartanburg.

Michael Nikolaides, senior vice-president, Engines and Electrified Drivetrains, BMW Group said: “We have invested around $10 million (Rs 69 crore) in a new battery assembly line and expanded the area to more than 8,000 square metres. This means we could double the number of batteries produced if needed to meet market demand.”

The carmaker says the new assembly line will be able to produce different types of fourth-generation batteries to serve the growing range of electrified vehicles locally. These batteries are based on a new technology concept that further enhances their performance.

More than 120 people will be employed in battery production at Plant Spartanburg by the end of the year, having completed a comprehensive training programme to acquire the technological know-how needed for battery production.

Knudt Flor, president and CEO, BMW Manufacturing, said: “We have produced batteries on site at Plant Spartanburg since 2015 – making the BMW Group a pioneer for electromobility in the US.”

In the last four years, the plant’s battery assembly team has produced a total of more than 45,000 batteries. In addition, 225 vehicle assembly workers received training in the production of electrified vehicles, adding to the Plant’s already skilled staff.

New investments in production of X5 and X3 plug-in hybrids
Between 2015 and 2018, BMW Group Plant Spartanburg built the first series produced plug-in hybrid vehicle, the BMW X5 xDrive40e, for the core BMW brand. The start of production for the new BMW X5 xDrive45e will be in August 2019; production of the BMW X3 xDrive30e will get underway in December.

“The BMW X5 and BMW X3 are currently among the top-selling BMW models in the US. We expect their plug-in hybrid variants to be just as popular with customers,” adds Flor.

At present, the BMW Group has three battery facilities: at the Competence Centre for e-drive Production at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing in Germany, at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in the US and at Plant Powertrain of its joint venture, BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA). The BMW Group also produces batteries for local car production in cooperation with a partner in Thailand. The BMW Group’s battery research and pilot plant are located in Munich.