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BMW builds the 100,000th i3 electric car at Leipzig plant, unveils new energy storage facility

BMW celebrated today the production of its 100,000th i3 electric car at the Leipzig plant in Germany today.

While that’s a cool milestone, that wasn’t the coolest thing happening at the Leipzig plant today. For the occasion, they also inaugurated a new battery storage facility powered by old BMW i3 battery packs.

Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW, was quite pleased with the 100,000th i3 milestone.

He said:

“We are proud of the 100,000th BMW i3 built by our plant in Leipzig. The BMW i3 is the original, a true technological pioneer. With BMW i as our spearhead, we intend to remain the leading premium supplier of electro-mobility going forward. We are now looking ahead to the next member of the BMW i family, the i8 Roadster, which will expand our leading position in the field of electro-mobility. In 2025, we will offer our customers a total of 25 models with electrified drive trains,

The current daily production of the BMW i3 at Leipzig stands at “more than 120 units, with an annual production volume in 2016 of 26,631 vehicles.”

They also shipped 2,783 BMW i8s from the plant last year.

But as previously mentioned, the new battery facility stole the show. Earlier this year, BMW started a new program to use old BMW i3 battery packs to power large energy storage systems. They opened their first facility with Vattenfall in the Netherlands earlier this year.

Now the new system called ‘ the BMW Battery Storage Farm Leipzig’ is linked to both local renewable energy production and the grid in order to stabilize power and offer backup.

Here are a few images of the facility:

The system can fit 700 battery packs, but 500 packs are currently installed. Right now, it’s a mix of used and new packs as most BMW i3 packs are still in used considering the vehicle is just a few years old at this point.

They plan to add used battery packs as they become available.

Joachim Kolling, Head of Energy Services at the BMW Group, commented on the project:

“The capacity of 700 high-voltage batteries is the equivalent of an electric range of 100,000 km in a BMW i3. The scalable approach means that the storage unit could be further expanded to accommodate more batteries. It is also already compatible with upcoming battery generations and therefore future-proof. We are demonstrating once again that the concept of sustainability at BMW i goes far beyond the car.”

Electrek’s Take

The “battery storage farm” project is interesting and I think we are going to start seeing more of those. Just earlier this week we reported on Mercedes-Benz building an impressive energy storage facility using electric Smart car battery packs.

As for the 100,000th i3 milestone, it’s definitely an achievement for BMW’s first significant electric vehicle program, but Krüger’s talk of EV leadership makes me uneasy.

If BMW ever had EV leadership, it lost it. The BMW i3 feels lonely as an EV program at the German automaker.

They unveiled the 2018 version this summer with little to no upgrade other than a new sports package. Then there’s the new i8 Roadster, which isn’t likely to do much better than its predecessor and it’s barely an EV anyway.

Yet the CEO says that the plug-in hybrid will “expand our leading position in the field of electro-mobility.” That’s the current state of BMW’s EV programs. Not much leadership here.

But at least they gave us something to look forward to. Last month, BMW seriously updated its EV plans with 12 all-electric cars by 2025.

The first one is expected to be the long-overdue all-electric Mini, which BMW says is coming in 2019. At that point, we should have a much better idea of just how serious BMW is about EVs.

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