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BMW creates 2,000 jobs as it starts production of new autonomous electric car

BMW’s Dingolfing plant director announces the expansion of e-drive production, as well as preparations for series production of the fully electric and “highly automated” BMW iNext

The mobility of tomorrow is being turned into reality to a large extent in BMW’s Dingolfing production plant, in Lower Bavaria, southern Germany.

Ilka Horstmeier, the new director of the plant, is convinced of this. “We want to, and will, emerge as a winner in our industry’s technological transformation,” she says. “And we will continue to pioneer future topics such as e-mobility and autonomous driving.”

In this context, the plant director announced that “we will increase the number of Dingolfing-based jobs in the production of e-drive components several times over in the next few years – to a total of up to 2,000”. 

The increasing demand for e-mobility, which benefits Dingolfing in particular, is also noticeable at the vehicle plant.

Ilka Horstmeier, the new director of the plant, pictured on the right beside BMW’s new iNext electric and autonomous car

In 2018, the share of electrified models more than doubled year-on-year, to around 9 per cent of the total production output.

Almost 30,000 plug-in hybrids of the BMW 5 Series and 7 Series rolled off the assembly lines at the Dingolfing plant.

A total of around 330,000 vehicles were built at the location in 2018, including, as a first, the new BMW 8 Series’ coupe and convertible variants.

Thanks to these figures, Dingolfing was once again the BMW Group’s largest European production site in terms of production output.

In the coming years, the BMW iNext, scheduled for production at the Dingolfing plant from 2021 on, will be among the major milestones on the road to future mobility.

Extensive investments are already being made all around the plant to prepare for the model.

Horstmeier says: “The BMW iNEXT brings together all key automotive technologies: it is fully electric, fully connected and highly automated.

“It is the technology flagship for the future of the entire BMW Group. And we are proud that this car of the future will be built here at our plant.”

At the corporate level, the BMW Group says its iNext concept “paves the way for a number of innovations”.

Starting in 2021, it will be the first all-electric BMW to be produced in Dingolfing, where it will be assembled flexibly and efficiently on a single line together with plug-in hybrid and combustion-engine models.

According to Horstmeier, the new addition would also allow the location to play a pioneering role in the future-oriented field of autonomous driving.

Horstmeier has been director of the BMW Group’s largest European vehicle plant since November 2018.

Commenting on her area of responsibility, she says: “Our industry is experiencing exciting times, and the Dingolfing plant is definitely the most exciting place you can be right now. This is where corporate strategy becomes reality.”

bmw dingolfing story 1

The plant in Dingolfing is a showcase for many future initiatives in automotive engineering, including the BMW Group’s center of excellence for the production of electric drive systems.

This role will be significantly expanded over the next few years. In the long term, the number of jobs in this promising field is to rise from currently 600 to up to 2,000 employees, according to Horstmeier.

Dingolfing already supplies the BMW Group’s global vehicle plants with batteries and electric motors for the production of electrified vehicles.

From 2020, the all-new fifth generation of electric drives will roll off the production line at the site, ensuring further growth in production volumes.

For Horstmeier, her new assignment in Dingolfing is a bit of a homecoming.

In the mid-2000s, the new plant director was responsible for structure planning, programme planning and production control at the site.

Then as now she is impressed by the broad expertise of the Dingolfing staff, the great team spirit and the plant’s outstanding operational excellence, which is reflected in numerous awards, such as the J.D. Power Gold Award 2018 as the best European vehicle plant in terms of delivery quality.

This is a strong foundation for the new plant director to lead the site with its approximately 18,000 employees into the future and further strengthen its role as the lead plant for the BMW luxury class.

Horstmeier says: “With the production launch of the new BMW 7 Series in March and further model variants of the BMW 8 Series, our Dingolfing plant is making a major contribution to BMW’s model initiative in the luxury segment and to the Group’s profitability this year.”

Regarding the current situation of the BMW Group and the Dingolfing plant, Horstmeier says: “Even though the general conditions were not always favorable, we managed to make 2018 a successful business year with another sales record for the BMW Group.

“With almost 330,000 cars produced, the Dingolfing plant once again made a major contribution to this accomplishment.”

The current market situation, however, demanded more than ever fast response and flexibility. “Thanks to smart agreements with the works council, we at the Dingolfing plant are very well positioned and have the tools we need at our disposal,” says Horstmeier.

Besides managing the production output and the launch of the BMW 7 Series and 8 Series models, 2019 is above all a year of new beginnings, renewal and shaping the future for the new plant directo.:

“Today, we are benefitting from decisions taken five years or more ago,” says Horstmeier. “It is now up to us to do both as well: master our day-to-day business perfectly while at the same time taking the right decisions for the future. This is the task I intend to tackle together with the entire Dingolfing team.”