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BMW to Double its EV Battery Production in China, Opens a New High-Voltage Battery Center

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【Summary】German automaker BMW is increasing its battery production capacity in China to meet the growing demand for its partial and fully-electric vehicles, as the automaker gears up to build new fully electric models. The BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture has expanded its battery factory in Tiexi with the establishment of a new “High-Voltage Battery Center.”

Eric Walz    Sep 14, 2020 12:20 PM PT
BMW to Double its EV Battery Production in China, Opens a New High-Voltage Battery Center

German automaker BMW is increasing its battery production capacity in China to meet the growing demand for its partial and fully-electric vehicles, as the automaker gears up to build new fully electric models.

The BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture, which is a partnership between BMW and Chinese automaker Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, has expanded its battery factory in Tiexi with the establishment of a new "High-Voltage Battery Center." 

The High Voltage Battery Center will be the first location worldwide to produce BMW's fifth-generation battery for BMW's eDrive technology, which will be used in the fully-electric BMW iX3 SUV. 

BMW unveiled the new iX3 EV in July

The iX3 will be sold in both China and Europe, but not in the U.S. The EV will be produced by BMW Brilliance in Shenyang, Liaoning province. It's BMW's first model produced at the Shenyang manufacturing facility in China and will be sold around the world. Market launch is expected later this year.

"China is of high importance to the BMW Group, both as a market and as a location for production and innovation," said Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for Production. "With this new Battery Center, we more than double the capacity of our local battery production in China."

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The BMW iX3 will be built at the BBA plant in Shenyang and exported around the world.

China is the world's biggest auto market and also is BMW's largest single market. BMW has five electrified models on sale in China and the automaker has sold roughly 75,000 battery-powered models in the country.

Production of the new fully-electric BMW iX3 at BBA plant in Shenyang is expected to start in late September. The vehicle's high-voltage batteries will be assembled at the new battery center. 

The high-voltage battery for the fifth-generation BMW eDrive was developed from the ground up with the latest battery cell technology. The new batteries have significantly higher energy density and use fewer raw materials, the company said. 

The high-voltage batteries' output and energy density can be scaled for use in other electric models from BMW. The batteries that will go into the iX3 have around a 20% improvement in energy density at the cell level, BMW said. The batteries also use about two thirds less cobalt compared to the battery cells the automaker used in the past. 

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A worker assembles a battery pack at BMW's joint venture battery factory in Tiexi, China.

In addition to reducing the amount of cobalt, The BMW Group is sourcing its own cobalt and lithium for the first time and supplying the raw materials to its battery cell producers.

The automaker has also reached a contractual agreement with its cell manufacturers that they will only use green power to produce the fifth-generation battery cells. By producing high-voltage battery cells locally, BMW is able to minimize transportation costs which further contribute to its sustainability goals.

In addition, BMW's newly opened Competence Center for E-Drive Production in Dingolfing, Germany is also gearing up to produce the automaker's new fifth-generation high-voltage batteries. These batteries will be used in the upcoming electric BMW iNEXT and the BMW i4 beginning next year. 

The BBA Brilliance Automotive joint venture was founded in 2003. The joint venture includes development, production and sales of BMW vehicles in China.

In 2019, the BBA automotive plants in Tiexi and Dadong produced over 530,000 vehicles for the Chinese market. Maximum capacity at the two plants will reach 650,000 units per year over the coming years.

The BMW X3 SUV was the first model available with highly efficient gas or diesel engines incorporating 48-volt mild-hybrid technology or a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. Now it will be available as a purely electric model.

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