Leipzig Zelllackierung

BMW Group plant Leipzig: First of five cell coating lines goes on stream

The first production line for cell coating has gone into serial production at the BMW Group’s pioneering plant for electric mobility. This means that the expansion of e-component production at the Leipzig site is gaining further momentum and ensuring its future viability.

Leipzig. The BMW Group is investing in e-component production – as it continues to do at its Leipzig site, where the first cell coating line for battery modules has now gone into operation. The new facility occupies 2,300 m² of space in the former production hall of the BMW i3, whose production ended last summer. It can coat more than 10 million cells per year and manages over 2,300 per hour.

“From 2024, we will be able to map the entire process chain of high-voltage battery production at the Leipzig site,” says Markus Fallböhmer, Head of Battery Production at the BMW Group. “This means the plant will make an important contribution to the transformation to electromobility.” The BMW Group’s goal is to achieve at least half of its sales with fully electric vehicles by 2030. From 2020 to the end of 2024, the BMW Group will invest more than 800 million euros in the development and expansion of e-component production at the Saxon site. By the end of next year, another battery module line, four cell coat lines and two assembly lines for the production of high-voltage batteries will be added. This year, all the planned cell lacquer lines will go into serial production at intervals of about two months.

From cell lacquering to high-voltage batteries: this is the production process

The production of high-voltage batteries is divided into three successive process steps: Cell coating, module production and the assembly of the high-voltage battery. Production takes place in highly automated processes. In cell coating, the lithium-ion cells are first pre-treated with a laser and then plasma-cleaned. Both processes serve to improve paint adhesion. The cells are then painted in two layers in a specially developed system and UV cured before being subjected to fully automated quality testing.

After cell coating, the battery cells are assembled into a larger unit, the so-called battery modules. The finished battery modules are then mounted in an aluminium housing together with the vehicle connections, control units and cooling units. The size and shape of the aluminium housing as well as the number of battery modules used vary depending on the vehicle variant. The result is a high-voltage battery that is optimally adapted to the vehicle.

Future viability of the Leipzig plant ensured

E-component production is the driving force behind the further expansion of the Leipzig plant. In the future, e-components will be produced in an area of around 150,000 m². “This is a sustainable investment in the future viability of the Leipzig plant”, stresses plant manager Petra Peterhänsel. Through the plant expansion jobs are secured and even increased. “There are currently already more than 800 employees working in e-component production at the Leipzig site, and by 2024 there will be more than 1,000.”

A next major milestone for the plant is the production of the MINI Countryman successor, which will roll off the production line in Leipzig starting at the  end of 2023. The crossover model will be offered with both combustion engines and a pure electric drive. The high-voltage batteries for the all-electric MINI Countryman will then be sourced  from the plant’s own production.