BMW's Latest Decision Will Alarm Brand Purists

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It's the beginning of the end.

The all-new BMW iX just made its big debut and despite some debate surrounding the exterior design, this battery-electric SUV represents a significant technological shift for the German automaker. It's the first-ever new from day one BMW lacking a combustion engine (the i3 has an optional small gasoline engine battery generator). The iX, like the upcoming BMW i4 and several other 'i' branded models, represents the automaker's electrified future. Eventually, BMW will end using combustion engines completely and it has just taken its first major step in doing so.

BMW has announced plans to temporarily close its long-running Munich engine plant for major re-tooling. Why is this such a big deal? Because the plant builds four, six, eight, and twelve-cylinder engines. BMW is pumping $473 million (400 million euros) into the plant's major overhaul that will see it reopen in 2026 when it will build next-generation electric vehicles.

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BMW

"We are systematically implementing our electrification strategy. By the end of 2022, each of our German plants will be producing at least one fully electric vehicle," said Dr. Milan Nedeljkovic, the BMW board member in charge of production. "We are continually developing Plant Munich towards electromobility and creating efficient and competitive production structures for this purpose."

This decision does not mean BMW is ending combustion engine production. Eight and twelve-cylinder engine assembly will shift to a facility in Hams Hall in the UK while the other engines will be made in Steyr, Austria. This engine production relocated from Munich will be done in stages and is set to be completed by 2024.

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BMW also announced additional future production plans, such as the all-electric 5 and 7 Series sedans that will be later produced in Dingolfing, Germany. This factory will be doubling its staff to 2,000 employees to handle the increased workload.

Meanwhile, the electrified X1 subcompact crossover will call the Regensburg factory home. BMW's Leipzig plant has been tasked with building the next-generation Mini Countryman which will offer a combustion engine and fully-electric variants. Both Regensburg and Leipzig are being prepped to make battery modules as well.

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