BMW introduces iFACTORY production strategy; transformation towards e-mobility; Debrecen plant first CO2-free plant

The BMW iFACTORY production strategy defines the future direction of the BMW Group’s factories and production technologies and responds to the challenges of the transformation towards e-mobility.

The automotive manufacturing of the future requires a new holistic way of thinking. With our BMW iFACTORY, we are leading the way and setting new standards in terms of flexibility, efficiency, sustainability and digitization.

—Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member, Head of Production

The strategic vision of the global production network is the BMW iFACTORY. SKINNY. GREEN. DIGITAL., with an integrative and global approach.

The BMW iFACTORY is not a one-off centerpiece, but an approach that we will implement in all our factories in the future, from our century-old factory in Munich to our future factory in Debrecen, Hungary.

—Milan Nedeljkovic


BMW Group production network: 31 production sites in 15 countries.

The BMW iFACTORY concentrates the production expertise of the BMW Group in three key areas:

  • LEAN, synonymous with efficiency, precision and extreme flexibility;

  • GREEN, for sustainability, resource efficiency and circularity; and

  • DIGITAL, for the active use of digitization in data science, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtualization.

The holistic approach of the BMW iFACTORY is supported by flexibility, launch expertise and the ability to integrate into the company’s production system.

LEAN: based on highly flexible and efficient production. The BMW Group production network is on the cusp of a fundamental transformation: The Neue Klasse, which is scheduled to start production in 2025, is based on a completely new vehicle architecture.

With a clear focus on all-electric propulsion, it sets the conditions for future generations of vehicles to be manufactured efficiently and in line with the company’s cost-efficiency and quality goals. The BMW iFACTORY is now ready to reinforce the proven success factors of the global production network.

LEAN is highly flexible and efficient production through streamlined processes in competitive structures. A single BMW production line can produce different drive types and vehicle models. They also set the standard for rapid responsiveness and adaptability, absorbing bottlenecks and supply shortages relatively spontaneously and reacting quickly to fluctuations in demand. For customers, this flexibility means that they can modify certain elements of their vehicle’s configuration up to six days before the production date.

The goal of BMW iFACTORY is to use even more meaningful real-time data throughout the production process to more closely and transparently control global manufacturing to achieve the fastest possible response times. This will not only improve volume and contract planning, but also supply chain and inventory management and also support focused quality work.

GREEN: Sustainability throughout the value chain. With BMW iFACTORY, the focus on sustainable production is stronger than ever.

Environmental, economic and social responsibilities are inseparable, and we strive to achieve all three, not only in the product itself, but throughout the value chain. By 2030, we aim to reduce CO2 emissions from production by 80% compared to 2019,

— Milan Nedeljkovic

With its new plant in Debrecen, Hungary, where production of the all-electric Neue Klasse will start in 2025, the BMW Group is entering a new era of sustainable car production.

We expect the Debrecen plant to be the first automotive plant in the world to completely dispense with fossil energy sources in its production processes. Debrecen will be our first CO2-vehicle-less vehicle factory and clearly puts us at the forefront of developments in this regard.

—Milan Nedeljkovic

A significant portion of the plant’s electricity will be produced directly on site. The rest will be covered by 100% renewable energy, the vast majority of which will come from regional sources.

Another element of sustainable production is consistent circularity. Where possible, production materials and resources will be reused. Scrap metal and milling shavings, for example, will be recycled and reused, while waste heat from cooling will be fed into a circuit to heat interior spaces and water.

Saving resources greatly benefits the company economically. Examples include the resource-efficient wet-on-wet painting (IPP) process and the use of direct current in the construction of automotive bodies for the first time.

The energy that powers BMW Group factories around the world comes exclusively from renewable sources. As the Leipzig plant develops into a center of excellence for hydrogen, the company’s facilities around the world are becoming increasingly independent of third-party energy suppliers or other external influences. This is made possible by a combination of self-generated and stored energy with flexible load profiles throughout production. Here, the latest digital methods and comprehensive systems guarantee maximum transparency and support the constant reduction of energy consumption as well as the use of renewable energies according to needs on the basis of precise forecasts.

Another key issue in the field of climate protection is biodiversity. The variety of flora and fauna at BMW Group locations worldwide is promoted through targeted, region-specific measures, from beehives and hawks to meadow orchards.

Meanwhile, to support GREEN logistics inside and outside the factories, the BMW iFACTORY takes an open approach to technologies, focusing on environmentally friendly concepts. Over the next few years, for example, the increased use of rail transport and electric trucks will mean zero local emissions from transport logistics at the Munich plant.

DIGITAL: From innovations to effective use cases. BMW Group Production uses the latest technologies to link all relevant product, process, quality and cost data between development, planning and production processes. The focus here is on applications from the fields of virtualization, data science and artificial intelligence.

Virtualization plays an important role in the BMW iFACTORY strategy model. First, every detail of all BMW Group production sites is recorded in a 3D scan. In this way, planning work can be done virtually anytime and from anywhere. In the next logical step, a virtual representation – or digital twin – is created of each factory in its entirety. This can then be used by planning specialists in real-time collaborations across different locations and time zones.

This approach allows, for example, an early integration of virtual products in the factory and significantly reduces the downstream planning work. It also optimizes investments and improves process efficiency and stability of product launches.

Data science provides the foundation for decision-making based on facts, figures and (real-time) data. Consistent and transparent data enable rapid and proactive identification of root causes to optimize processes. BMW Group production already uses more than 200 AI-based applications. The technology helps automate various logistics and production processes for better quality assurance. Plus, standardized platforms and self-services mean solutions can be quickly scaled to work across all technologies and locations.

Key drivers for the transformation of BMW Group production are developments in the automotive market and specifications relating to climate change. The BMW Group is already doubling its production of electric vehicles in 2022, having delivered more than 35,000 fully electric cars to customers in the first quarter alone. At the same time, the latest technical innovations support the company as they make a significant contribution to climate protection and sustainability.

The BMW iFACTORY not only responds to growing customer demand for electric vehicles, but also to our desire as a member of society to support climate protection and sustainability. We use digitization to achieve this – while remaining absolutely competitive.

—Milan Nedeljkovic

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