The electrification process sweeping the automotive world is bringing about a veritable revolution in the ranges of virtually all manufacturers. But it's not just the cars that are being revolutionised: the production centres where they are made are also changing radically.

This is exactly what is going to happen at BMW's main plant, in Munich, which will soon be modernised to accommodate production of the Neue Klasse from 2026, before being converted to the production of electric cars only from 2027.

A little history

BMW's Munich plant has a history spanning more than a century. The production site, located in the heart of the German city, was inaugurated in 1918. Initially, aircraft engines were produced here, before moving on to motorbikes. The first was the R32 in 1923. The first car to roll off the Munich production line was the BMW 501 in 1952.

L'usine BMW de Munich dans les années 1970

BMW's Munich plant in the 1970s

But the real revolution came in 1962, when the Bavarian plant began production of the first generation of the Neue Klasse, the car that was the forerunner of today's 3 Series and enabled BMW to enter a market segment that had previously been unexplored by the German brand.

Voici les zones concernées par la modernisation de l'usine BMW de Munich

Here are the areas involved in the modernisation of BMW's Munich plant

The moment of revolution

Today, 75 years after production of the first car began at the Munich plant, the factory is about to undergo a major change. From 2026 onwards, the new Neue Klasse will be produced here, which is why BMW has invested €650 million in modernising the production site.

Not an easy task, given the space constraints of the plant's location in the heart of Munich. That's why engine production will be transferred to Hams-Hall in the UK and Magna Steyr in Austria, to make way for the new production lines for the Neue Klasse, which will meanwhile already go into production in 2025 at the Hungarian plant in Debrecen. Throughout 2026, production of the Neue Klasse will run in parallel with that of the current electric and combustion models already built in Munich. Finally, from 2027 onwards, (only) electric cars will be produced here.

La future apparence des lignes de production rénovées de BMW à Munich

The future appearance of BMW's renovated production lines in Munich

Cheaper to produce

The approach to production of the Neue Klasse will be profoundly different from that adopted to date for any other model. As confirmed by Milan Nedelijkovic, Head of Production and member of the Board of Directors of BMW AG, the aim is to simplify all production processes as far as possible. This will be achieved by equipping all future BMW cars with fewer components and digitising production, also using augmented reality to constantly monitor the quality of cars on the assembly line.

La première Neue Klasse et le concept BMW Vision sur les lignes de production de l'usine de Munich

The first Neue Klasse and the BMW Vision concept on the production lines at the Munich plant

According to Milan Nedelijkovic, by 2025 a series of measures that will lead to a significant reduction in production costs will be 25% lower than in 2019 (considered to be the last 'good' year before the pandemic and the semiconductor crisis). However, this does not mean that new electric cars will have a lower selling price.

Not just for electricity

The project to renovate the Munich production site speaks volumes about the importance of electric power in BMW's plans for the future. Suffice it to say that already today, one in two cars leaving the factory is equipped with an electric or electrified powertrain. However, the electric car will not be the only vehicle in the German brand's strategy.

In fact, the brand's management has confirmed that as long as European directives allow, BMW will not abandon combustion engines. The aim is to offer customers as wide a choice as possible to meet the needs and tastes of a very broad public without "excluding anyone".

Gallery: The BMW factory in Munich between past and future