Partner to power BMW EVs

Partner to power BMW EVs

Factory to process lithium-ion batteries

Workers assemble BMW plug-in hybrid EVs at the group's factory in Rayong. From July on, BMW's local supplier will start to transfer finished EV batteries to the plant. (Photo by Kwanchai Luangsathit)
Workers assemble BMW plug-in hybrid EVs at the group's factory in Rayong. From July on, BMW's local supplier will start to transfer finished EV batteries to the plant. (Photo by Kwanchai Luangsathit)

DTS Draexlmaier Automotive System Thailand will start high-voltage battery production in July, with a plan to supply the output to the BMW plant in Rayong for the manufacture of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (EVs), says BMW Group Thailand.

According to the Board of Investment, the plant won EV privileges last November with an application for 540 million baht, including land purchase.

BMW announced that it would team up with its existing supplier, Draexlmaier Group, to localise the manufacturing at WHA Chonburi Industrial Estate 2 in Chon Buri.

The new facility is 14 kilometres from the German luxury car maker's automobile and motorcycle assembly plant at Amata City Industrial Estate in Rayong.

Christian Wiedmann, president of the local unit, said the plant will run two final processes of lithium-ion battery for EVs: module production and pack assembly.

"This plant will bring two processes under one roof while other local facilities make just the last process, packing all battery modules before being equipped in plug-in hybrid and battery EVs," he said.

The first two processes of EV batteries, component and cell production, cannot be done at the plant.

Mr Wiedmann said finished batteries will be equipped in BMW's plug-in hybrid EVs, the 5 and 7 Series, in the first phase from 2019 onward.

In 2018, sales of BMW's plug-in hybrid EV achieved a record-high growth rate of 122% in Thailand, representing 24% of total sales for the period.

The plug-in hybrid EVs, sold in Thailand, were ranked in the third spot in terms of the highest share from EV sales worldwide.

Moreover, BMW has a partnership to provide charging stations under the ChargeNow brand, which is developing 121 chargers at locations nationwide.

BMW expects the ChargeNow network to increase to 150 chargers by year-end.

In addition, BMW has provided roughly 800 wall-charging sockets at customers' homes.

Andreas Aumann, vice-president for product management at Munich-based BMW Group, said a key success factor for the market adopting battery EVs will be the coverage of charging stations.

For battery EVs, BMW has yet to market the BMW i3 locally, importing the model to be used at organisations.

"When the time is right, battery EVs will be here as soon as possible," Mr Aumann said. "The plug-in hybrid EVs are supporting a transition period to all-electric cars, while the hybrid version is very useful when locations or roads lack charging stations."

He said the group's Mini brand will launch a full electric version in 2019 as planned.

"We will introduce three more all-electric models, the BMW iX3 in 2020 and the BMW i4 and iNEXT in 2021," Mr Aumann said. "By 2025, the group will have an electrified product portfolio with at least 25 models, 13 plug-in hybrid EVs and 12 battery EVs with a projected 15-25% share of total sales."

BMW will not exit conventional cars, but it will be capable of manufacturing models with three platforms, including plug-in hybrid and battery EVs.


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