BMW Begins Production At New China Plant to Accelerate EV Production

BMW has positioned itself for a major expansion in China with its new Lydia production plant.


BMW announced today that production has officially begun at a new $2.24 billion plant in China as the automaker accelerates electric vehicle (EV) production. The Lydia plant is the biggest single investment project in the history of the BMW Group in China.


The ‘BMW Brilliance Plant Lydia’, located in the northeastern city of Shenyang is BMW’s third car assembly facility in China. The plant will increase BMW’s annual output by an estimated 20% from 2021 to 830,000 vehicles in the world’s biggest auto market. 


The plant features flexible manufacturing lines designed to be capable of producing battery electric vehicles (BEV) according to market demand, BMW said.


The first model that will roll off the Lydia plant’s production lines is the i3. Not to be mistaken for BMW’s outgoing i3 hatchback the i3 eDrive35L is a purely electric version of the 3 Series Sedan LCI, based on the long-wheelbase model specific to the China market. BMW will increase its line of electric cars and SUV for Chinese customers to 13 next year.


“The BMW iFACTORY makes us a role model for the automotive industry. Plant Lydia is born digitally and geared towards e-mobility”, said BMW AG Board Member for Production Milan Nedeljković. He added, “Responding to our customer’s demands, the flexibility of our production sets the benchmark in competition. Plant Lydia is a great example of this. It is fully capable of producing up to 100% electric vehicles. Together with its neighboring plants in Tiexi and Dadong, Lydia will play an important role in accelerating production of BMW electrified vehicles in China.”

Jochen Goller, President & CEO of the BMW Group Region China said: “The expansion of our production footprint in China shows we are preparing for further growth in the world’s largest electric car market and are confident in China’s long-term perspectives. We are stepping up our e-mobility efforts, aiming for more than a quarter of our sales in China to be all electric by 2025. With BMW’s expanded and upgraded production base in Shenyang, we are now fully prepared to serve the growing market demand for e-mobility in China.”

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BMW brings the “Industrial Metaverse” to life


The Lydia plant follows the BMW iFACTORY strategy of LEAN. GREEN. and DIGITAL. However, with the new plant, the company has pioneered a new area of digital. With the Epic Games Unreal Engine 3D creation platform as the backbone, the Lydia Plant was the first BMW Group plant fully planned and simulated in a virtual environment from the start, with every detail of the entire production process designed virtually effectively making it a Metaverse plant.


The integration of the virtual world with the real world shortened the planning time, enabled cross-regional and cross-timezone collaboration, and effectively overcame the adverse effects of pandemic, which shortened the construction time of the plant by six months.

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Plant Lydia – Data-driven, cloud-based and IoT enabled.


BMW’s Lydia plant is “data-driven”: cloud-based digital platforms and the Industrial Internet of Things connect every product, process and person through transparent, always-available and integrated data. This extensive use of data science enhances quality control, boosts efficiency and enables predictive maintenance. The widespread use of artificial intelligence, data analytics and algorithms has shifted decision-making from “experience-driven” to “data-driven”. Around 100 artificial intelligence applications are currently used at the BMW Shenyang production base.


A powerful network environment and data processing capabilities are essential to “data-driven”. For example, the 1,600 multi-functional cameras used in the area of quality assurance generate more than 10 petabytes of data every year. The entire plant is covered with a gigabit 5G network to meet the bandwidth requirements for technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and real-time video transmission. To cope with the huge amount of data, BMW Brilliance also built a new Data Center for Plant Lydia that contains more than 1,200 servers.


Producing cars in the most sustainable way


The concept of sustainability is a core part of the Lydia Plant’s production capability. The BMW Group has set a goal of reducing carbon emissions through the entire lifecycle per vehicle by 40 percent by 2030 compared to 2019, which includes an 80 percent carbon reduction at the production level. 

The new production site uses first-class building materials, including advanced insulation, to keep the rooms warm in winter and cool in summer while reducing energy consumption. The plant’s workshops are equipped with state-of-the-art production equipment, such as electric-powered welding guns and ovens in the Body Shop that utilize renewable electricity supply to reduce emissions. Plant Lydia also has a dedicated Intelligent Operation Center with an intelligent energy management system that monitors energy and resource consumption in real time, and uses artificial intelligence to deeply analyze how to optimize energy use.


The entire BMW Shenyang production base uses 100% renewable electricity. It has 290,000 square meters of solar panels, ranking first in Liaoning Province. These solar panels can generate 44,000 MWh of electricity per year – enough to power 9,000 houses for an entire year. The solar panel expansion will continue in the coming years, with an area of 120,000 sq. meters under construction at the Lydia Plant.


The new vehicle plant in Shenyang also places emphasis on biodiversity. Its green areas consist of gardens, artificial lakes, a variety of plants and 11,000 trees, a sustainable landscaping and a sponge city system collects rainwater to nourish plants and replenish underground water. 

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Flexible and geared towards e-mobility


BMW’s Lydia Plant is geared towards e-mobility production, but it can also produce other BMW models flexibly and efficiently.


By the end of 2025, the BMW Group expects to deliver more than two million battery electric vehicles worldwide, with one in every four new vehicles sold in China being a pure electric model.


Tesla and domestic automakers such as BYD, Nio and Xpeng dominate the booming EV market in China, with sales more than doubling from a year ago. Nearly a quarter of the cars sold in China in the first five months of this year were electrified vehicles, according to data from China Association of Automotive Manufacturers.


BMW sold 208,507 vehicles in China, its biggest market, in the first quarter of this year, a 9.2% drop from a year ago, according to a company filing.

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