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BMW inaugurates high-voltage battery production plant in Thailand

BMW Group Thailand is marking another historic milestone with the inauguration of a local high-voltage battery production plant in partnership with the DRÄXLMAIER Group, one of the world’s leading automotive suppliers and a partner of BMW Group since 1966.

BMW Group Thailand launched the local assembly lines in July 2019 at the DRÄXLMAIER Group plant in WHA Chonburi Industrial Estate 2. The high-voltage battery assembly plant is assembling both battery modules and the battery itself.

Uwe Quaas, Managing Director of BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand said: “One of the pillars of BMW Group’s global strategy is electrification, and BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand is underlining its commitment to this mission by taking another big step forward in our electro-mobility strategy. The start of local battery production enables us to better respond to growing domestic demand for electrified vehicles in Thailand. This new capability also strengthens the performance of Plant Rayong in fulfilling the country’s mission of sustainable mobility.”

Gerhard Irnesberger, Plant Director DRÄXLMAIER Group Thailand, said, “It is a major honour for us to be entrusted with the production of high-voltage batteries for BMW Group Thailand. We have long experience in offering the most innovative solutions for premium vehicles in the fields of electrics, electronics, interior design and battery systems. With 53 years of supplier partnership at the global level, we are very pleased to expand our alliance and partnership with BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand.”

To ensure that the production process meets the BMW Group’s exceptional standards of quality, experts from BMW Group Munich were involved in the process at the new DRÄXLMAIER Group facility throughout the process in order to set up a solid foundation for the future.

The high-voltage battery is a central element of partially and fully electrified vehicles and a highly sophisticated component that requires specialised skills to produce. Thanks to the advanced training and qualification programmes initiated in September 2018, the staff from the DRÄXLMAIER Group who have participated in the battery production training programme at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing – the BMW Group Competence Centre for e-drive production – and the BMW Group pilot plant for e-drivetrains in Munich, are now ready for the high-tech assembly work to produce the latest generation (Gen4) of the BMW Group high-voltage batteries.

This involves the use of cutting-edge production technologies onsite including laser welding, plasma activation, robotics, gluing, automated optical and electrical inline quality inspection along with end-of-line testing. The training is also focused on supporting a highly automated process, which is an important part of battery module production, as well as comprehensive quality assurance, product methodology and technology, rework, and analysis.

Equipped with a strong grasp of battery production skills, the staff will work on battery cells provided by a supplier in the Asian region along with other imported parts – such as aluminium housing, electronics, and cables – to roll out high-voltage batteries that meet BMW Group’s world-class standard and are in full compliance with Thailand’s local content requirement regulation. Final batteries will then be transported to Plant Rayong for the production of the entire range of BMW 5 Series Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles, which has been in operation since July 2019. Since 2017, BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand has assembled four BMW plug-in hybdrids at Amata City Industrial Estate, Rayong province.

Following on from BMW Group Thailand earlier endorsement for incentives by Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) for a THB700 million ($23.1 million) outlay in BMW plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) production, the company has jointly invested with DRÄXLMAIER Group in this battery assembly plant, worth THB500 million ($16.5 million).

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