The production of Pure Electric MINI Countryman

The electrification continues at the BMW Group plant in Leipzig: Four months after the start of the production of Countryman with an internal combustion engine, the purely electric version is now beginning to come out of production lines and in Leipzig. After the gradual shutdown of BMW i3, the BMW Group electric mobility hub welcomes another pure electric vehicle within it. Now it manufactures four models with three types of drive systems from two brands, all on a single production line: It is about BMW Series 1, BMW Series 2 Active Tourer (including plug-in hybrid version), BMW Series 2 Gran Coupe and MINI Countryman in both pure electric and internal combustion engine version. The Pure Electric MINI Countryman represents an important step in the full transition of the MINI brand to electric mobility by 2030, combining an electric sense of go-kart with zero emission mobility. It is released in two purely electric versions: Countryman E (150 kW, 204 hp | electricity consumption 17.4 – 15.7 kWh/100 km | CO2 emissions 0 g/km) and the strongest four-wheeled Countryman SE ALL4 (230 kW, 313 hp | electricity consumption 18.5 – 16.8 kWh/100 km | CO2 emissions 0 g/km). Continuous upgrading of facilities To enable the production of up to 350,000 vehicles per year – 100,000 more than previously – Leipzig factory has been constantly upgraded since 2018, with extensive additions and improvements to body parts, paint shop, assembly and logistics. “Our cars and accessories are in great demand. In recent years the BMW Group has invested around 1.6 billion euros in the Leipzig plant for the production of additional vehicles and electrical components, and now we are increasing the volume of vehicle production – which is a great news for our factory,” said Petra Peterhänsel, Director of the Factory. The main lever for increasing production volume is MINI Countryman. During 2024, production will increase to nearly 500 units a day – over 800 BMW vehicles built there. Besides, thanks to its flexible operation, Leipzig’s factory is able to quickly meet customer demand, increasing, for example, the production volume of its pure electric vehicles. The flexible assembly structures allowed the seamless integration of Pure Electric MINI Countryman into production. Something similar applies to the different transmission systems, all produced on the same assembly line and prepared for the so-called “marriage” with the bodywork. The transmission systems, gearboxes and electronic control systems (all integrated into a single high-integrator, known as HEAT) for the two purely electric models, are connected directly to the factory. A new production line had to be created only for electronic control systems. High voltage batteries are manufactured in Leipzig Upon the start of production of Pure Electric MINI Countryman, the BMW Group plant in Leipzig will manage the entire production process for fifth generation high voltage batteries, consisting of three stages: cell coating, unit production and battery assembly. The procedures in all these three stages are currently being reinforced with the operation of five cell coating lines, three to produce units and two to assemble high voltage batteries. “We are in the middle of transformation towards electric mobility,” said Markus Fallböhmer, Head of Battery Production at BMW Group. “Since this year, the Leipzig plant will implement all stages of the internal high voltage battery production process. It’s our next big step forward.” The ability to produce parts for electric vehicles has also increased at the Leipzig factory since 2021. Now it will manufacture not only high voltage batteries for Pure Electric MINI Countryman, but also electrical components for BMW iX1, BMW iX2, BMW i4, BMW i5 and BMW iX produced in other facilities. The production unit of these components in Leipzig currently employs about 1,000 workers. To enable high voltage batteries to be produced, the spaces previously used for BMW i3 and BMW i8 models have been modified while new buildings have been added. One of these is a new hall with an area of about 61,000 m2. There two lines are housed capable of producing up to 300,000 high voltage batteries annually. The BMW Group has so far invested over 900m euros in the production of components for electric vehicle components in the Leipzig factory. Paint procedures saving resources In launch, Pure Electric MINI Countryman will be available in three additional body colors, British Racing Green, Chili Red and Blazing Blue, as well as with a contrast roof, which is a trademark of the MINI brand. This is painted with a new method, known as paint without over spraying that prevents the waste of resources and is currently being prepared for use in broad production. The term “overspray” refers to the fog spray created by excess color particles, which is formed when bodies are painted in the conventional manner. With the new technique, this concentration of droplets no longer appears, which facilitates the production of surfaces with more than one color, as the painful mask cover process is no longer required. This method also contributes to reducing CO2 emissions, as air leaving the surrounding area needs less cleaning. It also requires less air at specified temperature and humidity. As a result, less energy is consumed both to achieve a certain temperature and to process. The burner technology used to dry the color on the roof also undergone conversions to start the MINI Countryman production and now consists of a bivalent system. The burners are flexible with regard to the fuel they use as they can consume hydrogen (H2), natural gas (methane – CH40), a mixture of these two fuels or alternate them together without having to interrupt their operation. Five such bivalent burners capable of consuming hydrogen are now used to produce the MINI Countryman ceilings. Gradually and other burners at the paint shop will adopt the dual operating system. The next six hydrogen burners have just been installed. This makes Leipzig a pioneer in the car industry and brings it closer and closer to lower CO2 emissions. “Our vision is to relieve as much as possible the production of carbon emissions by replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen,” Petra Peterhänsel said, explaining the long-term objective of the unit. This will require the supply of sufficient quantities of green hydrogen through a network. The construction of a regional hydrogen network is currently planned, from which the Leipzig plant will benefit.