A NEW DAWN: BMW will built its next-generation X3 in SA in favour of its much-loved 3-Series (pictured). Image: BMW SA
Rosslyn, Pretoria - The start of construction on the new, state-of-the art Bodyshop at BMW South Africa’s Rosslyn Plant is a strong visual reminder of the expansion that comes hand-in-hand with the R6-billion investment announced by the automotive giant in 2015.
CEO BMW South Africa and Sub-Sahara, Tim Abbott, was joined by Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, Mzwandile Masina, and plant director Stefan Huelsenberg, earlier in May at the ceremonial ground breaking at the company’s recently acquired area of land, adjacent to its current plant.
Long term commitment
The investment represented at the time the biggest in the local automotive industry and reaffirms the long term commitment of the BMW Group to South Africa. It will enable Plant Rosslyn to produce and export the next generation of the BMW X3. The plant secured its status in the BMW production network in 2015, with a prestigious platinum award in the JD Power quality survey.
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Abbott said: “Our passion for perfection at Plant Rosslyn has demonstrated that we are highly competitive within the global BMW production network both in terms of cost of production and quality. We are excited about the future prospects of Plant Rosslyn and cannot wait to start with the production of the next generation BMW X3."
The new Bodyshop is a significant element of the R6-bill investment, with funding also allocated to other infrastructure and operational enhancements, suppliers, launch costs and employee training. Construction of the new Bodyshop is planned for completion in the first half of 2017, and will be followed by facility installation, testing and commissioning.
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Deputy Minister Masina congratulated BMW on their latest milestone: “We look forward to working with BMW, as a corporate citizen that continues to do great work in South Africa. Your investment will expand the industrial base in South Africa."
State-of-the-art to the next level
The new Bodyshop will see a 50% expansion in size to 26000m2, up from the current 17000m2. Around 300 robots are expected to be in operation in the future. It will set the benchmark in the local automotive industry, and give BMW South Africa a competitive advantage in the global group.
Plant director Huelsenberg says: “This expansion will result in an increase in the number of employees in the new Bodyshop, and the increased robotics will allow us to empower employees with new skills to run these new technologies."
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The production of the next-gen BMW X3 at Plant Rosslyn will replace the 3 Series sedan, which will be allocated to other plants within the global BMW production network. BMW Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina, USA, will also continue to produce the X3. Preparation of the plant for the new product will happen alongside current production of the 3 Series sedan until the end of its lifecycle.
Plant Rosslyn, the heart of the BMW SA Group
Production at BMW Plant Rosslyn dates back to 1968, when Praetor Monteerders began assembling cars, utilising BMW engines and drive-trains fitted to Hans Glas sheet metal pressed and shipped from Dingolfing in Germany.
In 1973, BMW AG took over full shareholding and established BMW Group South Africa (Pty) Ltd with BMW Plant Rosslyn becoming the BMW Group’s first manufacturing facility outside of Germany.
Since then, the BMW Group has been a major investor in South Africa and its people, with BMW Plant Rosslyn moving from a limited vehicle-production plant that merely assembled vehicles with a few customisation possibilities for the local market, to a world-class plant, capable of producing highly customised cars for customers across the globe.
For example, the BMW Group was the first OEM to adjust its production model to capitalise on exports, before the finalisation of the Motor Industry Development Plan (MIDP) in 1999. Similarly, the BMW Group was the first OEM to announce a new investment in South Africa before the finalisation of this plan’s replacement, the APDP in 2009.
During this period, Plant Rosslyn’s production of the BMW 3 Series and the BMW Group’s investment in South Africa has increased substantially with each new generation as well.
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This is especially true after the introduction of a fully-fledged export programme in 1999:
- With the third generation BMW 3 Series (E36), Plant Rosslyn produced around 92 000 units from 1994 to 1998 or around 19 000 cars per year.
- The fourth generation BMW 3 Series (E46) was built between 1998 and 2005 and Plant Rosslyn was responsible for approximately 269 000 units or around 38 500 cars per year.
- The fifth generation BMW 3 Series (E90) ended production with around 342 000 units or around 49 000 cars per year, having been built from 2005 to 2012.
- Since the start of production of the sixth generation BMW 3 Series (F30) in 2012, around 200 000 units have been built at Plant Rosslyn.
Therefore, since 1999, BMW Group South Africa has grown its overall production volume significantly while its production of cars for export markets has quadrupled.
In 2015, BMW 3-Series sedan production volume at Plant Rosslyn increased to 71 353 (2014: 68 771), while exports increased to a record 65 744 units.
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