BMW today began series production of the i3 electric vehicle at its Leipzig plant in Germany. BMW’s first commercially available EV represented a challenge for the assembly plant, as the workers and the line had to adapt to new materials and production processes.
That’s because it is the first time that carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) has been used in automotive series production. The entire body structure of the BMW i3 is made from CFRP, which has been chosen to offset the weight of the batteries for the electric drive system.
“We require 50 percent less energy and 70 percent less water, and source the electric energy for production of the BMW i models CO2-free from the wind turbines at the plant,” said BMW production chief Krüger. The consistent reduction in energy and water consumption is mainly due to the elimination of the traditional painting process for steel and aluminum bodies.
Around €400 million ($534 million) was invested in retooling of the Leipzig plant, with 800 new jobs also being created. BMW has invested a total of around €600 ($801) million in the BMW i production network and in the process, creating over 1,500 new jobs.
The first BMW i3 that rolled off the assembly line will serve as the lead car for the International Berlin Marathon on September 29. It was handed over to German marathon runner Jan Fitschen.
Deliveries of the BMW i3 to European customers will begin in November, with the car to arrive in the U.S., China and other markets in early 2014. Prices start from €34,950 in Germany, £25,680 in the UK and $41,350 in the U.S.
By Dan Mihalascu