Innovative manufacturing technologies and the application of new materials characterize the production process for BMW i cars. Their production stands at the beginning of a value chain that is completely aligned with sustainability criteria. From the raw materials production to the energy-efficient vehicle operations and the recycling as the last step, the chosen approach makes a considerable contribution to the favorable overall life cycle assessment of the plug-in hybrid sports car BMW i8. In both the development and the production of the BMW i8, the outstanding technological expertise of the BMW Group comes to the fore.
The BMW Group’s global lead in automotive engineering is demonstrated, among other things, in the industrial production of components made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). The development and production of both the combustion engine and the electric motor of the hybrid sports car are also carried out completely by the BMW Group.
The innovative vehicle architecture of the BMW i8 comprises two elements: the Life module, the passenger cell made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP), and the aluminum Drive module, which incorporates the entire drivetrain and chassis technology. The LifeDrive concept and use of CFRP allows production times to be cut by half compared to those required for an equivalent car built along conventional lines. The process is less investment intensive as the high costs required for a conventional press shop and paint shop are no longer an issue and the Life and Drive modules can be manufactured alongside one another.
The BMW i production network comprises a plant in Moses Lake, Washington State, for the carbon fiber production and a plant in Wackersdorf for the processing into carbon fiber laminates. Both these facilities are operated by SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers (ACF), a joint venture set up by the
BMW Group and the SGL Group. They are joined by the BMW Group’s own plants in Dingolfing, Landshut and Leipzig.