The BMW Group, as a testament to its strong commitment to the Wackersdorf location in Upper Palatinate and as part of its ongoing e-mobility expansion, will invest approximately 100 million euros by 2026 to establish a new battery testing center integrated into the site’s existing structures. The initial outcomes of BMW Group’s high-voltage battery development efforts will enter regular operation as early as mid-2024. Subsequently, within an 8,442 m2 area, high-voltage batteries and other electric powertrain components for future BMW Group models will undergo rigorous testing during the early stages of development, well before production begins.
“The BMW Group’s Wackersdorf location is set to become a major facilitator for the transformation towards electromobility,” confirms Site Manager Christoph Peters, adding that the new battery testing centre will broaden the foundation of the BMW Group site in Wackersdorf. “In addition to supplying our overseas plants, cockpit production and, from 2024, door production for Rolls-Royce models, this will become Wackersdorf’s fourth main area of activity. This, in turn, strengthens our location’s future viability.”
The around 100-million-euro investment will mainly be focused on complex test bench technology and the upgrades to the building’s existing infrastructure needed for their operation. Hall 80, located on the plant grounds, is currently being remodelled for this purpose: This building, which was originally constructed in the 1980s for the reprocessing facility planned at the time, has quite a history. “Now, this storied building will become a symbol of our plant’s electric future,” says Peters.
Structural work is already underway, including installation of a new floor slab for the building. In mid-2024, with commissioning of the first section, so-called “battery testers” will be put into service. From the outside, these resemble large, rather insignificant refrigerators – however, on the inside, they make use of cutting-edge high tech. Here, battery cells will be tested round the clock, early in their development. Essentially, the electrical performance of individual battery cells is determined during charging and discharging under different conditions. This allows use cases that will be relevant for customers later to be simulated, long before a vehicle under development drives on the road. Parallel testing of several hundred battery cells will initially be possible. Once the ramp-up is complete, testing capacity will reach several thousand.
In the final phase from 2025 onwards, the testing centre will also be used to validate the BMW Group’s battery-electric vehicles prior to the official launch of series production and ensure the required premium quality. This includes subjecting the batteries to vibration and shock tests, for instance, using so-called “shakers” – highly complex testing devices of which there are currently only a few across Europe. Complex driving patterns, including charging and discharging cycles, can also be simulated in endurance tests. Tests like these are essential for type approval of electric vehicles. In some cases, country-specific tests must also be completed. Capacity for such tests in the free market is currently limited – which is why the BMW Group is creating its own capacity with the new battery testing centre in Wackersdorf.
SOURCE: BMW Group