BMW i3 name likely for new electric sedan


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BMW is expanding its electric vehicle production facilities and the first model from its Neue Klasse platform is likely to be called the i3.

BMW will establish assembly operations for a sixth-generation (Gen6) electric vehicle battery on the site of its new iFactory manufacturing plant in Debrecen, Hungary.

The Gen6 battery assembly operations will centre on BMW’s “next-generation round battery cells” for models based on the firm’s Neue Klasse platform, said Milan Nedeljković, BMW board member responsible for production.

“In Debrecen, we’re building the most advanced plant in the world. With our iFactory, we’re setting new industry standards for vehicle production. Our investments underline our systematic approach to implementing e-mobility,“ he said.

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The first model planned to be based on the Neue Klasse platform is an electric sedan that sources suggest will revive the BMW i3 name when it enters production in 2025. Its development is twinned with a successor to today’s BMW iX3 SUV, which is also set to be produced at the Hungarian site.

The Debrecen plant is planned to boast an initial production capacity of up to 150,000 units in its first full year of operation.

The newly confirmed battery assembly operations form part of a €2 billion (AUD$3.1bn) investment that BMW has earmarked for the 140,000m2 plant, construction of which started in May 2022.

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The Gen6 batteries assembled in Hungary will be integrated into BMW’s new Neue Klasse platform, which is planned to underpin all upcoming seventh-generation BMW 3 Series models, including the i3.

They will dispense with the modular assembly used by BMW’s existing fifth-generation (Gen5) batteries for a new cell-to-pack assembly method.

BMW board member responsible for research and development, Frank Weber, recently revealed the new Gen6 battery will be assembled in packs of between 75kWh and 150kWh.

The new round cells will have a diameter of 46mm and are planned to be 95mm tall in saloon models and 120mm high in SUV models.

In announcing its plans, BMW said its new battery “is decisive for the competitiveness of electric vehicles”.

“With the next generation of batteries for the Neue Klasse, range will improve by up to 30% and the charging speed will be up to 30% faster,” it said.

A reference to “high voltage” indicates that the new batteries will function at up to 800V.

No details have yet been made as to the supplier of the new cells, but BMW partner CATL recently announced plans for a cell production site in Debrecen.

The construction of the BMW battery assembly operations is expected to boost the workforce at the Debrecen plant by 500.

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