In a historic move that could very well mark the end of an era, BMW, the iconic Bavarian automaker synonymous with silky-smooth engines, has finally bid farewell to the combustion engine—at least in its Munich plant. Yes, you read that right. The Munich plant, a veritable hallowed ground where gas-powered dreams were once forged, is now turning a new, decidedly electric leaf.
This isn't a snap decision, mind you. BMW announced this seismic shift back in November 2020, a prophetic vision of the electrified future. Fast forward to November 2023, and the last eight-cylinder engine—a masterpiece of engineering, really—rolled off the Munich line. Imagine, for 60 years this plant has been the heartbeat of BMW's engine production, and now, it's all set to be an altar of electric vehicular worship.
But where have the gasoline engines gone, you ask? Well, they're not extinct yet. Production has been smoothly transitioned to Steyr in Austria and Hams Hall in the UK. It's like a grand automotive chess game, with pieces moving across Europe in a strategic dance of production.
Now, let's talk about the future because that's where BMW is firmly steering its gaze. The Munich plant isn't just getting a facelift; it's undergoing a full-blown metamorphosis. We're talking a colossal investment of around 400 million euros to rejig the old engine assembly line for building electric vehicles. The all-electric BMW i4, which started production in Munich back in October 2021, was just the opening act.
By 2026, the "New Class" (Neue Klasse) of BMWs will be rolling off these revamped lines. It's like watching a phoenix rise from the ashes of the internal combustion engine.
But it's not just about the machines; it's about the people. The 1,200 souls who were the magicians behind the engines aren't being left behind. BMW's retraining and redeploying them in this brave new electric world. It's a testament to the brand's commitment not just to innovation, but to its workforce. The Works Council's nod of approval and the multi-million euro investment speaks volumes about BMW's blueprint for a successfully organized transformation in German industry.
BMW’s electrification strategy doesn't stop at Munich's city limits. The Bavarian production network is becoming an electric powerhouse. The i4 in Munich, the iX, i7, and i5 in Dingolfing, the iX1 and iX2 in Regensburg... the list goes on. Even component production is getting a jolt of electric love, with electric drive production in Dingolfing and a shiny new battery test center coming up at the Wackersdorf plant.
And let's not forget the residents of Strasskirchen. In a nod to grassroots democracy, they greenlit BMW's plans for a battery assembly plant in a September referendum. This isn't just a factory; it's a strategic move in BMW's grand plan to centralize battery pack assembly and distribute them to its constellation of vehicle plants.
In conclusion, BMW's Munich plant transformation is more than just a shift in production. It's a bold statement, a definitive pivot to an electrified future, and a testament to the brand's adaptability and vision. The times, they are a-changin', and BMW is not just keeping up; it's leading the charge. Literally.