About a year ago, I visited BMW's Group Plant Munich to get a preview of the German automaker's ambitious plans for solid-state batteries, the concept car behind the Neue Klasse electric reboot and even color-changing cars. The Munich plant dates back to 1922. It has become a sprawling, high-tech facility that employs nearly 8,000 people from 50 different countries, is connected to its own museum, and is a vital part of BMW's company history.
And that plant just made its last-ever internal combustion engine.
BMW confirmed to InsideEVs that the company has now ended production of its V8 engine at the Munich plant, news first reported by Electrive and BMW Blog. This brings an end to any internal combustion motor production at the company's headquarters, and arguably its global beating heart. Granted, the plant still makes some cars that get ICE motors, but making actual gas engines there is a thing of the past.
Gallery: 2024 BMW i5 M60
Granted, BMW's not done making traditional engines everywhere; it still makes a lot of gas motors, diesel engines and hybrid powertrains elsewhere. But the symbolism here feels pretty powerful. "No more engines are being built at the Munich plant, but we produce ICE engines at other plants in Austria and the UK," a BMW spokesperson told me. "This brings a run of 60 years of engines being built in Munich to an end."
To me, it says a lot about where BMW – and the world – is going next. And it's not toward more internal combustion engines. At the Munich plant, BMW currently makes the extended four-door 3 Series and 4 Series family, a huge lineup of cars that encompasses the M3, 3 Series Touring, 3 Series Sedan and more. Alongside those cars, it also makes the all-electric BMW i4, one of my favorite EVs currently on the market and something with a level of performance that deserves that M badge. (Other EVs like the iX, i7 and i5 are built at BMW's Dingolfing plant.)
BMW is also notable for being an automaker that's taking a "mixed" approach to future powertrains, not unlike Toyota on a slightly smaller scale. It's not taking internal combustion entirely off the table like some rivals, it's got a good lineup of hybrids and it's even keeping its power dry on the hydrogen front. But all of that shouldn't hide the fact that BMW's actually doing some interesting things on the all-electric front, too. The new Neue Klasse platform cars should be excellent, it's got more EVs coming in the meantime, and even Mini and Rolls-Royce have much more electrification in mind. And what's more, BMW has actually seen a lot of sales success with its EVs this year when many rivals have struggled with uneven demand. BMW said that around 20% of U.S. sales are now BEVs and PHEVs.
It's commendable progress for a brand that had to figure out what it means to make the Ultimate Driving Machine when you don't have high-revving inline-six engines and manual transmissions to fall back on. But if even BMW's historic home can see an end to the ICE era, I think that speaks volumes.
Contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org