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BMW to Double EV Battery Production Capacity at its U.S. Assembly Plant

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【Summary】​The BMW Group announced on Wednesday that it would double its production capacity for electric vehicle batteries at its U.S. plant in South Carolina as it ramps up manufacturing of plug-in hybrid vehicles, including the first ever X3 plug-in hybrid.

FutureCar Staff    Jul 24, 2019 4:35 PM PT
BMW to Double EV Battery Production Capacity at its U.S. Assembly Plant
BMW is building a plug-in hybrid version of the popular X3 SUV.

The BMW Group announced on Wednesday that it would double its production capacity for electric vehicle batteries at its U.S. plant in South Carolina as it ramps up manufacturing of plug-in hybrid vehicles to include the X3 SUV vehicle in addition to the X5.

The Spartanburg, South Carolina plant, which opened in 1992, is BMW's largest assembly plant by volume and produces the automaker's X lineup of SUVs destined for the global market.

BMW said it was investing $10 million in a new battery assembly line which will be capable of operating in a two shift system ahead of the introduction of the first ever BMW X3 plug in hybrid model which is expected to go on sale later this year.

BMW said the new EV battery assembly line will be able to produce different types of fourth-generation batteries as needed, to serve the growing range of electrified vehicles locally including the X3 and X5 plug-in hybrid models. BMW said these batteries will be based on a new technology concept that improves performance.

"We have invested around ten million US dollars in a new battery assembly line and expanded the area to more than 8,000 square meters. This means we could double the number of batteries produced if needed to meet market demand," said Michael Nikolaides, Senior Vice President Engines and Electrified Drivetrains, BMW Group.

BMW produced 15,000 batteries last year with a one shift system and currently produces a plug-in hybrid version of the X5 SUV. A new version of the X5 will be produced at the Spartanburg plant beginning in August, the company said.

"The BMW X5 and BMW X3 are currently among the top-selling BMW models in the U.S. We expect their plug-in hybrid variants to be just as popular with customers." said Knudt Flor, President and CEO, BMW Manufacturing, Co., LLC. 

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A BMW worker assembles a battery pack at the automaker's Spartanburg assembly plant in South Carolina.

BMW has been producing batteries at Plant Spartanburg since 2015. In the past four years, BMW said the plant's battery assembly team has produced a total of more than 45,000 batteries.

BMW said it planned to employ 120 staff to manufacture different types of batteries, and the additional staff gave it the capacity to double production.

Germany's automakers, including BMW, Volkswagen and Daimler are looking to secure a stable supply of EV batteries for their upcoming electric models, including building their own. The automakers are concerned about becoming too reliant on Asian suppliers for EV batteries. 

BMW rival Daimler is investing more than one billion euros in a global battery production network. The company plans to purchase the cells from various global suppliers. Currently Daimler has supply deals in place with Korea's SK Innovation, LG Chem and China's Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd.(CATL).

BMW has a seperate deal with CATL to supply EV batteries.

The BMW Group currently has three battery facilities worldwide, including the Competence Center for E-drive Production at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing in Germany, the Spartanburg plant and at Plant Powertrain of its China joint venture, BMW Brilliance Automotive. 

The BMW Group's battery research plant is located in Munich.

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