The foundation stone has been laid for BMW Group’s new factory in Debrecen, Hungary. The new facility comes after an investment of more than €1 billion and will start series production of the all-electric Neue Class in 2025. “Plant Debrecen will set new standards in highly innovative vehicle production,” said Milan Nedeljković, BMW AG Board Member for Production. at the ceremony of laying the foundation stone. “This factory is state-of-the-art in terms of flexibility, sustainability and digitalization across the automotive industry.”
The BMW Group consistently follows a strategy of profitable growth. “The new factory in Hungary will play a key role in the transformation to electric mobility for both the BMW Group and its production network,” said Nedeljković at the ceremony. “It is another important building block in our capacity and will support our long-term volume growth.” By building further capabilities in Europe, the company is strengthening the balance of production volumes between the US, Chinese and European markets.
“Through the hard work of recent years, we have managed to create the most competitive investment environment in Europe in Hungary, based on political stability, an excellent Hungarian workforce and the lowest taxes on labor in Europe,” said Foreign Minister and Trade Peter. Szijjártó in his speech: “The success of Hungary’s economic policy is evident in BMW’s investment of about one billion euros, which will create Hungary’s leading position in the new electric era of the car industry and the long-term economy. will help grow.”
“As BMW’s new factory in Debrecen reinterprets car production, we will redefine Debrecen and the eastern region of Hungary with the arrival of BMW. After the 2018 announcement, the city is characterized by unprecedented dynamism and development. It became tangible to everyone in Debrecen how important it was for the leaders of the company to choose Debrecen,” said Dr. László Papp, the mayor of Debrecen at the groundbreaking ceremony. “The factory under construction here marks the beginning of a new era, both for BMW’s global network and for the entire automotive industry. New production processes, new technology and a revolutionary new vehicle. All this increases the value of the factory in Debrecen and therefore also Debrecen”, says Papp.
BMW iFACTORY perfectly implemented
The BMW Group establishes a complete vehicle factory in Debrecen, with a press shop, bodywork, paint shop and assembly. Built on a plot of more than 400 hectares northwest of the Hungarian city, it will have a capacity of approximately 150,000 units per year. It involves an investment of more than €1 billion and will start production of pure electric vehicles in 2025. Debrecen will produce the founding member of the Neue Klasse, which will be based on the cluster architecture developed specifically for all-electric vehicles.
“The Neue Klasse is a unique opportunity for us to completely rethink car production in every respect,” said Milan Nedeljković. “In BMW Production, our strategic vision is the BMW iFACTORY with its three dimensions: LEAN. VEGETABLE. and DIGITAL., and we are going to implement it perfectly in our new factory.”
Clear goal: no CO2 emissions during production in Debrecen
The BMW Group has set clear sustainability and production targets for its new facility. Nedeljković: “The CO2 emissions per vehicle produced will be zero – proving that with enough determination and innovation, car production can indeed be sustainable.” An important element in the sustainability concept for the new factory is the complete absence of fossil fuels. “We will not use oil or natural gas and will get all the electricity we need purely from renewable sources,” Nedeljković said. He emphasized: “Our factory in Debrecen is the first in the world to provide CO2-free vehicle production.” As a result, Debrecen will make a noticeable contribution to achieving the 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions from production that we aim for by 2030.”
Much of the required energy will be generated by extensive photovoltaic systems directly on the factory site. The rest is purchased regionally from 100 percent renewable energy. Research is also being conducted into the use of geothermal energy. In addition, Plant Debrecen will make use of innovative technologies that do not yet exist in the market in this form, especially in the paint shop. Here paint is no longer dried by means of gas ovens. Instead, new electrically powered technologies will be integrated into the future production system. “We are clearly a pioneer in this regard,” Nedeljković added.
Another important element in sustainable production is consistent circularity. Where possible, production materials and resources are reused. Metal waste and filings from, for example, milling and pressing are recycled for further use. Waste heat from cooling systems is fed in a closed circuit to heat indoor spaces and water. And smart energy monitoring systems will track exactly how all the energy is used, detect any waste and ensure production is as resource-efficient as possible.
Digitization potential is used intelligently and effectively
In addition, the BMW Group is adopting new approaches to digitization in Debrecen – even now, as the factory is being built. Digital planning tools are being used to an unprecedented extent to virtually design every detail of the entire production process. Each individual production phase is simulated and optimized with absolute precision. In particular, the collaboration with the American NVIDIA and the use of the jointly developed Omniverse planning software makes planning not only more accurate and faster, but also much more collaborative, both in-house and with partners and suppliers. Milan Nedeljković: “This fascinating technology is revolutionary. Our future factory in Debrecen already produces Neue Klasse vehicles today – virtually.”
Plant Debrecen will also use numerous digitization tools. Artificial intelligence (AI) applications will support quality assurance in a variety of ways and optimize processes for smart and predictive maintenance. The spectrum of digital applications also includes edge computing, data analytics, 5G location technologies and autonomous smart logistics systems with AI functions. “Digitalization offers huge potential and we are going to exploit it fully and intelligently in Debrecen,” emphasized the production board member. “We are going to achieve new dimensions of data consistency across the value chain and across all process chains.”
Recruitment is getting faster and faster
“But despite all the technologies, innovations and high-tech, a car factory is only as good as the people who work there,” Nedeljković added. Over the next two years, Hans-Peter Kemser’s team will grow from currently 100 people to more than 1,000. “Recruitment is already starting slowly,” Kemser reports. The aim is to fill management positions in all technologies with Hungarian specialists. We will focus very clearly on recruiting talented specialists from the Debrecen region and Eastern Hungary,” he continued. In addition to attractive salary options, the company offers many additional benefits that make it a very attractive employer in Hungary, as elsewhere. Benefits include specific accident insurance, mobility allowances, high-quality catering and access to the occupational health service from 1 June this year. There are also plans to provide childcare and education for children from German and Hungarian families. “We see ourselves as an attractive employer in several respects,” explains Kemser. “For us, a work environment in which employees are valued is just as important as fair working conditions and employee-oriented workplaces. Because it helps employees identify with the company and stay loyal to us.”
As the next phase of construction begins, the company offers jobs for specialists and people skilled in building and systems construction and facility management. Even more employees are being recruited for HR, Finance, Purchasing, IT, Planning and Controlling. Positions in production will be announced at a later stage.
Construction of the BMW Training Center in Plant Debrecen is already underway, in preparation for September 2023, when the local vocational training program will be launched as part of a work-study program. Three-year training programs in four professions will be delivered by eight training instructors to prepare 70 students per year for proficiency exams. “We are not only shaping the future of our factory, but also the personal future of a large number of young people,” emphasizes Plant Director Hans-Peter Kemser.