The first models of the new BMW 7 Series and the all-electric BMW i7 sedan have rolled off the production line at the BMW plant in Dingolfing. The carmaker had invested more than 300 million euros in the new site in Lower Bavaria, also consistently implementing the digitized BMW iFACTORY (we reported).
BMW 7 Series and i7: Start of production in Bavaria
Production of the new BMW 7 Series, including the all-electric BMW i7, started at the BMW Group plant in Dingolfing on July 01, just in time for the start of the second half of 2022.
“Our new BMW 7 Series is the first luxury sedan in the world to offer customers a choice of three drive types. Whether pure electric drive, combustion engine or in the future also plug-in hybrid,” says Milan Nedeljković, Member of the Board of Management for Production at BMW AG. With the new range of sedans, the Bavarian carmaker wants to attack, among other things, the S-Class from Mercedes-Benz.
The BMW Group has invested more than 300 million euros in the new production plant in Dingolfing. The plant is to become Europe’s largest production site as a BMW iFACTORY, i.e. factory with a complete digital twin.
In the process, the new 7 Series will be built on a production line alongside its brand siblings the BMW 5 Series and BMW 8 Series, as well as the all-electric BMW iX. “The individual drive variants of the BMW 7 Series are 100 percent interchangeable,” reveals plant manager Christoph Schröder. This makes it possible “to build along the actual drive mix in demand and to utilize our plant to the best possible capacity,” Schröder adds.
BMW i7 aims to mark milestone
Initially, exhibition and demonstration vehicles of the new BMW 7 Series will be launched before the series is made available to customers around the world from fall 2022. The all-electric BMW i7 sedan has ambitious plans in this regard and is expected to mark nothing less than a milestone in e-mobility in the luxury segment.
“Exactly one year ago, we celebrated the start of production of our BMW iX here on site. The BMW i7 now marks the next milestone. And next year, we will follow up with an all-electric variant of the BMW 5 Series. We are thus accelerating the pace of the ramp-up of e-mobility and electrifying our core model series,” Milan Nedeljković continues.
As early as this year, at least every fourth BMW built in Dingolfing is to have an e-drive. By the middle of the decade, the share of electric cars manufactured in Dingolfing is expected to grow to around 50 percent.
Not only the production, but also the technology of the new BMW 7 Series builds on the BMW iX. The vehicle electrical system architecture, user interface and driver assistance systems are based on the e-SUV, which the manufacturer says is now one of the most-produced models in Dingolfing.
Electric drive components are manufactured in the same house
The BMW i7 also benefits from in-house production. The e-drive components such as the high-voltage batteries and the e-drive (electric motor) are also manufactured at the Dingolfing site, which shortens production routes and makes manufacturing more efficient. As for the BMW iX, BMW i4 and BMW iX3, they come from the BMW Group’s neighboring E-Drive Production Competence Center.
Two new production lines were recently commissioned there, enabling the company to produce components for more than 500,000 e-vehicles per year.
At the same time, the Dingolfing plant is following the three basic pillars of “lean”, “green” and “digital”. They describe a flexible design of production structures, a focus on sustainability (for example by sourcing 100 percent green electricity) and the use of modern technologies and intelligent digitalization solutions.
BMW tests automated driving
Automated or autonomous driving is also an important topic at BMW, following Mercedes-Benz’s pioneering position here with the DRIVE PILOT system. However, BMW’s equivalent is still in its infancy, although it will be piloted at the Dingolfing plant from July as part of the digitalization strategy.
Automated driving at the plant” (AFW) will initially be tested in Lower Bavaria on a 170-meter route from the assembly hall to the plant’s finishing area, which all BMW 7 Series models produced will have to take.
The project was developed by the BMW Group together with the two startups Seoul Robotics and Embotech, whose software and technology are being used for this purpose. For the time being, however, this has nothing to do with autonomous driving on public roads, as project manager Sascha Andree explains:
“We are taking a different approach here. We do not use the sensor technology of the vehicle, but fall back for the environment recognition and the movement planning of the vehicle on an infrastructure that is outside of the vehicle.”
The pilot operation is scheduled to last until 2023 and will also extend to other vehicle models at the Dingolfing plant.
Prices and availability of the BMW 7 Series and i7
The new BMW 7 Series (2022) is to be offered with a diesel engine and as a plug-in hybrid. Here, prices start at 107,300 euros, as the automaker’s product website reveals. The all-electric BMW i7 starts from 135,900 euros in the form of the BMW i7 xDrive60. Technical details can be found on the corresponding model website, where the i7 can also be configured. BMW has not yet revealed when the market launch will take place.