Dingolfing is the home of big car production for BMW. The Dingolfing facility started as Glas GmbH and was purchased by BMW in 1966 (after the Neue Klasse had taken the public by storm). The original facility has been superseded long ago and the new facility is one of the largest of BMW’s manufacturing facilities. It has been the heart of all big car production since and a manufacturing base for body panels that fuel numerous other BMW production plants.
In the press release BMW mentioned that 370,000 7 series have been built at Dingolfing since 2008, a little over 50,000 a year with sales concentrating in China, the US, and Germany. Now the next generation 7 takes center stage, the first of BMW’s G code cars.
The new 7er will be available in a staggering area of potential configurations according to BMW. They claim that there are 1070 possible 7 series configurations, in other words a whole bunch of possible individual configurations. If you want that number spelled out it fills an entire line of text:
That number is absolutely stupid – to illustrate that point, given 7 billion people on the planet, here is the number of 7s each individual would have to order to exhaust every possible configuration:
It is safe to sum this up by saying that the new 7 can be tailored to a very high degree of individuality.
More than the astonishing amount of possible configurations is BMW’s commitment to new manufacturing techniques that have managed to reduce the weight (and increased the overall efficiency) of the G-code 7.
BMW has pioneered CFRP for mass production with the i3 and i8. Large components of the new G-code 7 will be manufactured using CFRP. And BMW has employed new processes for the production of the G-code 7.
The i3 passenger module is built from CFRP panels utilizing a high pressure resin transfer molding (HP-RTM) technique. The new G-code 7 series will take advantage of CFRP, steel, and aluminum for its structure.Unlike the i3, however, the new G-code 7 series requires different production processes to ‘meld’ the CFRP, steel, and aluminum.
In order to marry CFRP and steel, a hybrid process is used. Unlike the i3 the carbon fibre used in the hybrid process is ‘wet’, with resin already applied and that is married to sheet steel in the production process. This is useful for attachment points where the flexibility of steel is a plus. The process has to be capable of bonding the materials so that they will hold fast (in an HMS Surprise definition of ‘hold fast’).
In addition, the G-code 7 will also utilize CFRP wet pressing where carbon fiber, per-impregnated with resin, is pressed in a mold. This eliminates the resin injection step used in the HP-RTM process. One suspects that this will allow the use of woven CFRP (whereas the CFRP sheets used in the i3 are not woven but are stitched together in a unidirectional orientation).
The new 7 series promises to set the standard for innovative production processes at the BMW Dinolfing complex. It is BMW’s advanced manufacturing processes that truly sets BMW apart from their rivals.