BMW begins local assembly of high-voltage batteries for BMW plug-in hybrid vehicles in Thailand
BMW Group Thailand marked 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 the 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 only high-voltage battery assembly plant in the ASEAN region of BMW Group, assembling both battery modules and the battery itself.
“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,” said Uwe Quaas, managing director of BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand.
“It is a major honor for us to be entrusted with the production of high-voltage batteries for BMW Group Thailand. Our company sees itself as a reliable BMW partner in the regions in which we operate. 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,” said Gerhard Irnesberger, plant director, DRÄXLMAIER Group 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 specialized skills to produce. Thanks to the advanced training and qualification programs initiated in September 2018, the staff from the DRÄXLMAIER Group who have participated in the battery production training program at BMW Group Plant Dingolfing – the BMW Group Competence Center 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 suppliers in the Asian region along with other imported parts – such as aluminum 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 the Rayong Plant for the production of the entire range of BMW 530e Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles, which has been in operation since July 2019.
Since 2017, BMW Group Manufacturing Thailand has assembled four PHEVs, namely the BMW 330e, BMW 530e, BMW X5 xDrive40e, and BMW 740Le, at Amata City Industrial Estate, Rayong province.
Following on from BMW Group Thailand’s earlier endorsement for incentives by Thailand’s Board of Investment (BoI) for a BHT700 million (USD23 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 BHT500 million (USD16 million). This new beacon for e-mobility innovations will further unlock the competence of Thailand’s automotive industry. The incentives from BoI also symbolize the unity between the public and private sectors in this undertaking towards a sustainable future.