FRANKFURT -- BMW said it will begin production of its iNext flagship electric car in 2021 at its factory in Dingolfing, southern Germany.
The iNext will be BMW's first vehicle capable of Level 3 autonomy, in which the driver can temporarily hand over full control of the vehicle under certain conditions.
The decision is a win for the Dingolfing plant, considering that the i subbrand's other two models – the i3 full-electric car and the i8 plug-in hybrid are built in BMW's newest German factory in Leipzig, east Germany.
In a statement, BMW said it has chosen the Dingolfing location because the factory and the nearby Landshut engine plant are the automaker's competence centers for the production of high-voltage batteries and electric motors.
Dingolfing builds plug-in hybrid versions of the 5 series and the 7 series, alongside conventionally powered versions. The iNext will be the factory's first full-electric car.
The factory built 340,000 vehicles last year, about 14.4 percent of BMW's production. Together with Landshut, it has been a part of BMW following the acquisition of Hans Glas GmbH 50 years ago. To date, BMW has invested more than 100 million euros in electromobility in Dingolfing, which produces high voltage batteries for the group's electrified models.
BMW plans to raise sales of its battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to 100,000 this year from over 62,000 in 2016 between its two 'i' subbrand models and its core BMW brand vehicles, such as the 530e iPerformance hybrid. By 2025, it anticipates sales of electrified cars will account for a share of its global volumes of between 15 percent to 25 percent.
The iNext will be the first BMW Group vehicle confirmed that will come with Level 3 autonomy. Executives say it will already come with hardware that can enable the next stage of piloted driving, Level 4. Whether the software will be available, however, depends on the success of BMW's alliance with strategic partners Intel and Mobileye.