Sunday. 24.09.2023

German carmaker BMW began mass production of its all-electric BMW i4, the vehicle it hopes will challenge US carmaker Tesla on the e-car market.

The first vehicle rolled off the production line at BMW's main plant in Munich on Friday.

"We are entering exactly the niche that Tesla is also serving with its offering," said production board member Milan Nedeljkovic.

The i4 is being produced at the same site as the 3 Series and 4 Series.

The BMW 3 Series is the group's highest-volume model, with some 390,000 vehicles from the 3 Series and the similar 4 Series sold this year up to the end of September.

Electric carmaker Tesla is targeting the same group of buyers with its all-electric Model 3, and has sold 614,000 of these and the similar Y model during the same period.

"The start-up of the BMW i4 is a milestone for this plant and its team on the road to e-mobility," said Nedeljkovic said.

"From 2023, more than half of all vehicles from Munich will have an electric drive," he said, adding that most would be fully electric.

He did not provide any further details on target sales figures for the i4, however.

Production transfer

This year, BMW looks set to lose sales of 80,000 cars due to the global shortage of semiconductors. However, when it comes to allocating chips, the i4 has "a certain priority," Munich plant manager Peter Weber said.

BMW is currently transferring production of four-cylinder engines to Britain and Austria, in a process set to be complete by 2024.

That transition is costing 200 million euros (232 million dollars) and the company is set to invest a further 400 million to prepare the plant for the production of the next generation of vehicles in the mid 2020s.

These vehicles are to be built on a new platform, with new batteries and new software, at a BMW plant planned in Hungary as of 2025. These will then be rolled out to all plants and model classes.

By 2030, BMW wants to sell some 3 million cars, half of which would be fully electric.

Of rival Tesla, in terms of construction, Nedeljkovic said BMW did not go for "such large aluminium parts."

Instead, when it comes to the body of the car, he said BMW's focus was on high strength, minimal weight and a good price.

BMW starts mass production of its i4, hoping to take on Tesla