BMW tests hydrogen burner in Leipzig paint shop, expands battery assembly lines

LEIPZIG — BMW is testing a burner able to operate on both hydrogen and gas in its paint shop in Leipzig, the automaker said on Thursday, as it also announced an 800-million-euro ($782 million) investment in new battery assembly lines at the plant.

The burner, developed together with combustion technology firm Saacke with the aim of reducing carbon emissions in the production process, is able to switch from hydrogen to gas or vice-versa while in use.

Automakers looking to reduce dependence on Russian gas have been struggling to find a solution for how to power their paint shops without the fuel.

BMW already uses hydrogen in the production process at its Leipzig plant, with a fleet of hydrogen-powered trucks for logistics transport and five storage tanks on the premises.

The automaker has long defended hydrogen as an alternative CO2-free energy source both for production and as a fuel source for cars, even as other automakers bet exclusively on battery-electric vehicles.

Third battery assembly line

Also on Thursday, BMW said it was adding a third battery assembly line and five cell varnishing lines to the Leipzig plant by 2024, with two more high voltage battery assembly lines to follow after that.

The high voltage batteries will go into the full-electric version of the Mini Countryman model which will be produced at the same plant from 2023.

The automaker assembles batteries in two further plants in Germany – Dingolfing and Regensburg – as well as its U.S. Spartanburg site and its Shenyang plant in China.

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