Of the 250-plus applications that came in, only five made it onto the shortlist – but ultimately it was Leipzig that won. Twenty years ago, on 18 July 2001, the BMW Group announced at a press conference in Munich that it would build a new plant in Leipzig. “Here you can see the location that best meets our needs overall,” said Prof. Joachim Milberg, Chairman of the BMW AG Board of Management at the time.
Leipzig as a base and the over 200-hectare site near the city’s exhibition centre won on the basis of the following criteria:
- Ideal conditions and location for a future plant
- Availability of qualified personnel
- Use of existing supplies and logistics structures
- Very good infrastructure for traffic, supplies and waste
- Links to the BMW production network
- Fast implementation process
- Economic efficiency and flexibility
At the time, the BMW Group expected… 5,500halfat in the new plant Daily output from 2005 was projected to be 650 units, at an investment of around €1 billion. When production was finally launched, the plant employed about 2,500 people. Today, twenty years later, daily output stands at more than 1,100 units, made by a plant workforce of over 8,000 employees. Investments have so far totalled more than €3 billion and are still ongoing. Since March 2005 Leipzig has produced more than three million vehicles in total. Speaking about the positive development of Leipzig, Works Council Chairman Jens Köhler expressed his delight: “Ever since the decision was made, the management and Works Council have cooperated to increase the workforce considerably and make us an integral part of the region.”
The choice of Leipzig received an enthusiastic welcome, and support in the region was huge. There was also a vast number of job applicants: the day after the announcement, the dedicated call centre received more than 4,000 calls, and boxes and boxes of mail came in in a matter of days. In September 2001, a first cohort of 35 trainees began work at BMW Group Plant Leipzig. Since then Plant Leipzig has welcomed 900 apprentices, almost all of whom continue to work there.
The BMW Group laid the foundation in Leipzig for one of the most sustainable, state-of-the-art vehicle plants in the world. Its particularly well thought-out, flexible structures are an outstanding feature and include the ‘finger’ layout of the assembly hall – a world first that enables ideal logistics solutions and offers plenty of scope for flexibility. Specially developed for Plant Leipzig, the ‘finger’ layout allows trucks to deliver purchased parts and pre-assemblies straight to the lineside. In addition, new production stages can be integrated into the process and lines can be extended without requiring new buildings.
Since 2005 Plant Leipzig has consistently demonstrated its adaptability, integrating new products, processes and technologies and often playing a pioneering role within the BMW Group production network. As the birthplace of electromobility at the BMW Group, for example, Leipzig has manufactured over 200,000 fully electric BMW i3 cars and was the first car plant in the world to use CFRP (carbon fibre-reinforced plastic) in series production. The BMW Group continues to benefit from the plant’s collective skills in the field of electromobility, and Leipzig has been part of the international production network for high-voltage batteries since May of this year.
In 2023 Leipzig will demonstrate its flexibility once again, when it becomes the first German facility to produce both BMW and MINI vehicles, all on the same production line. Contracted to manufacture the all-new successor to the current MINI Countryman, the plant will make both the combustion-powered and the fully electric versions. “Over the last few years, we have worked constantly to lead our plant into a successful future. The contract to manufacture the MINI Countryman successor is taking us towards a further milestone,” said Hans-Peter Kemser, Plant Director at BMW Group Plant Leipzig. And that’s not the only goal Leipzig has set itself: “As a green plant, we want not only to be carbon-neutral but also to manufacture with zero CO2 emissions,” said Hans-Peter Kemser, announcing plans for the near future of the plant.
Burkhard Jung, Lord Mayor of Leipzig, also sees the BMW Group’s choice of Leipzig as a major milestone for the city and region: “Leipzig is an industrial base again. This development – which has been so important for us in economic terms – would have been almost unimaginable without the decision that was made in Munich 20 years ago. Over the last two decades, the north of Leipzig has evolved to become an industry heartland for the entire region. It’s a technological and industrial development that is benefitting people from Leipzig and far beyond. BMW in Leipzig not only produces cars but also works on the vehicles and production methods of the future. That fills me with confidence: Leipzig will remain particularly important, both for the transformation of transport and in the development of new technologies.”
Key events, past and future, at BMW Group Plant Leipzig:
- 2002 Zaha Hadid’s proposal for the design of the central building is chosen. The ground-breaking ceremony his held.
- 2003 The foundation stone is laid for the central building. The topping-out is celebrated.
- 2005 Plant Leipzig goes on stream, launching series production of the BMW 3 Series. The central building wins the German Architecture Award.
- 2009 Plant Leipzig produces its 500,000th vehicle. The new press shop opens, with the first high-speed servo press in the world.
- 2011 Plant Leipzig manufactures its millionth BMW.
- 2013 Four wind turbines go into operation. Production of the BMW i3 begins, and Leipzig becomes the first car plant in the world to integrate CFRP into series production.
- 2014 Production of the BMW i8 begins. The plant is extended to accommodate the manufacture of the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer (the first front-wheel drive BMW), and the press plant is upgraded.
- 2016 Plant Leipzig manufactures its 2 millionth BMW.
- 2017 The Battery Farm goes into operation.
- 2019 The paintshop is upgraded.
- 2021 Plant Leipzig produces its 3 millionth BMW. Production of battery modules is launched.
- 2023 Production of the MINI Countryman successor to begin.
SOURCE: BMW Group