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'SA builds some of the best cars in the world' - first locally-built BMW X3 SUV shipped off

2018-05-09 08:24

Lance Branquinho

South Africa builds some of the best cars in the world. There are many emerging markets which assemble automobiles but very few of them are entrusted with building for premium brands.

The latest local production success story is BMW’s X3. After committing an enormous R6.1-billion investment to its Rosslyn production facility in Tshwane, BMW SA is now building X3s for local consumption and export.

Exceptional quality

For the Rosslyn facility it’s a monumental change after assembling 3 Series for 35 years and winning acclaim for the quality of its export products.

READ: Local is lekker: SA-built BMW X3's ready for export to Europe

BMW’s decision to convert its SA production assets from 3 Series to X3 is excellent news for the local economy, not only due to the initial investment but also when considering the current and future automotive demand dynamics.

Image: BMW Group

SUVs are an ascending vehicle configuration, gaining popularity with each quarter of sales reporting, whilst sedans are stagnant in most markets other than China.

Demand for X3 is sure to surge, which means Rosslyn is at negligible risk of having to ever idle its production in the foreseeable future.

Building BMWs locally

How busy are the employees are BMW’s Rosslyn factory? Production of 3 Series was staggered and decommissioned during February, after BMW’s local staff had built an amazing 1 191 604 units of 3 Series for local and international customers.

Testing the new industrial engineering and assembly processes during March, BMW built only 78 X3s which were all for local consumption, with no exports.

Image: BMW Group

The second month of local production was April and total volume ramped up to 449 X3s, of which the split was nearly half local, and half export. Of those X3s, 244 were distributed to local dealers whilst 205 were shipped for overseas – mostly to Europe.

As X3 production gains momentum and scales to efficiency, BMW expects Rosslyn’s SUV assembly output to peak at 76 000 units per year. Initially BMW was planning for 71 000 X3s an annum, but global demand required BMW to readjust its capability upwards by 10%.

Image: BMW Group

To achieve its mandated production target BMW will be assembling slightly more than 6000 X3s a month, with most of those vehicles for export.

An indication of how much bigger the local BMW project is set to become with the evolution in production from 3 Series to X3, can be seen in compounding the numbers.

At 76 000 units per year the X3 project will match the total number of 3 Series built in Rosslyn over three-and-half-decades in only 15 years. That shows just how much bigger and important the Rosslyn asset has become for BMW over time.

Not bad going for BMW’s first factory ever commissioned outside of Germany, back in 1968. 

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Read more on:    bmw  |  south africa  |  rosslyn  |  export  |  production

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