BMW starts i3 production at its Leipzig site

Article by Anita Panait, on September 19, 2013

The BMW Group has commenced production of the BMW i3 premium electric vehicle. A vehicle that boasts of lower fuel consumption and emissions, the BMW i3 is the result of careful employment of select materials and production processes. The BMW i3 also boasts of being the first vehicle to use carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in volume production.

This extremely lightweight and durable material that makes up the BMW i3’s body structure offset the extra weight brought by the batteries for the electric drive system. By industrializing the manufacturing process for CFRP, the BMW Group managed to become the first global carmaker to make its use in vehicle production economically viable.

BMW invested around EUR400 million at its Leipzig plant to install new structures and machinery for the output of BMW i models, with 800 new jobs created. BMW also produces key components for the BMW i3 at BMW Group sites and joint venture facilities at Moses Lake in the USA and Wackersdorf, Landshut and Dingolfing in Germany.

BMW Group has made EUR600 million in total investments for the BMW i production network and has created over 1,500 jobs. The start of series production of the BMW i3 was graced by the Stanislaw Tillich, Minister President of the state of Saxony; Burkhard Jung, Mayor of Leipzig; and Harald Krüger, BMW AG Board Member for Production.

The first BMW i3 has been tapped as the lead car for the International Berlin Marathon on September 29, 2013, and was handed over to German marathon runner Jan Fitschen. Deliveries of the BMW i3 to customers in Germany and other European countries will commence in November 2013. BMW will launch the BMW i3 in the United States, China and other countries in early 2014.

The LifeDrive construction and BMW eDrive drive innovation allow an extraordinary amount of freedom in designing. Undeniably, the look of the BMW i3 is as unforgettable as the sensation of freedom and on-board drive experience.

A body that measures 3,999 mm long, 1,775 mm wide, and 1,578 mm high provides the BMW i3 with distinct dimensions with vitality and solidity that emphasises the vehicle's dexterity when performing in the city. The short overhangs of the BMW i3 also clearly point to its agile drive traits. Broad glass shapes give the i3 a fascinating lightness and, along with its noticeable carbon shapes, allow a look at the vehicle's low-weight engineering.

The application of the light but very sturdy rigid CFRP material in constructing the passenger area lets it to do away with B-pillars, creating very easy access to the two rows of seating.

Among the hallmark traits of BMW i models is the "black belt" that goes from the hood to over the roof and into the back of the automobile. Another item of the individual BMW i design idiom is the flowing stream that sweeps along the sides, allowing for larger side windows at the back and so increases the substantial feeling of room inside the vehicle.

The design of the front of the BMW i3 is set by an extremely formed apron, by the distinct expression of the kidney grille as an encapsulated component, and by headlamps surrounded with U-shaped LEDs. The similar U-shaped LEDs in the rear are blended as "floating" parts into the completely glazed large tailgate.

Press Release

BMW i3 production kicks off

Leipzig/Munich. The BMW Group entered a new era in automotive construction today with the start of series production of the BMW i3. The world’s first premium electric vehicle to be purpose-designed for this form of drive system is the result of an all-encompassing development approach targeted at reducing fuel consumption and emissions in urban areas. Exceptionally high standards of sustainability and resource efficiency have also been achieved in the selection of materials and production processes employed. This is the first time that carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) has been used in automotive volume production. The body structure of the BMW i3 consists entirely of this extremely lightweight and durable material, allowing the extra weight of the batteries for the electric drive system to be cancelled out. By industrialising the manufacturing process for CFRP, the BMW Group has become the first company worldwide to make its use in vehicle production economically viable.

At the Leipzig plant alone, some €400 million has been invested in new structures and machinery for the production of BMW i models and 800 new jobs have been created. The production network for BMW i also sees key components for the BMW i3 manufactured at BMW Group plants and joint venture facilities at Moses Lake in the USA and Wackersdorf, Landshut and Dingolfing in Germany.

The company has invested a total of around €600 million in the BMW i production network and generated over 1,500 jobs.

Series production of the BMW i3 got under way today in the presence of the Minister President of the state of Saxony, Stanislaw Tillich, Mayor of Leipzig, Burkhard Jung, and BMW AG Board Member for Production, Harald Krüger. The first BMW i3 off the line has been recruited as the lead car for the International Berlin Marathon on 29 September and was handed over to German marathon runner Jan Fitschen. Deliveries of the BMW i3 to customers in Germany and other European countries will begin in November, with the car’s launch in the USA, China and other markets to follow in early 2014.

“Today represents a milestone in our company’s development,” said BMW production chief Krüger. “We are making history with the BMW i3. Not only is our first electric car about to hit the road, we are also completely redefining sustainability with regard to personal mobility thanks to groundbreaking technologies and processes.” Indeed, the entire value chain is firmly committed to sustainability and efficiency: “We require 50% less energy and 70% less water, and source the electric energy for production of the BMW i models CO2-free from the wind turbines at the plant,” added Krüger. This huge reduction in energy and water consumption can be attributed primarily to the elimination of the traditional painting process for steel and aluminium bodies.

Stanislaw Tillich was delighted that this new chapter in automotive history would be written in the federal state he heads: “I’m proud that, in BMW, we have such an innovative carmaker here in Saxony and that BMW is building the i3 at its plant here in Leipzig. This proves that Saxony is an attractive location in terms of its research and educational institutions, its infrastructure and, most importantly, its highly qualified and motivated people.”

Leipzig’s mayor Burkhard Jung concurred: “The BMW plant has been a boon for our city from the beginning and continues to act as a growth engine for jobs. With BMW also basing production of its electric vehicles here, the prospects for the local area are extremely healthy.”

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