New era for BMW
The BMW Group has invested R2.2-billion between 2009 and 2012 gearing up for production of the new BMW 3 Series at the firm's Rosslyn plant outside Pretoria and production kicked off this week.
So the wheels are now rolling.
"The BMW 3 Series is the most important volume-produced model for the group, as well as the biggest-selling model in the entire premium segment," said Frank-Peter Arndt, a member of the BMW AG board of management responsible for production.
"At the same time, every generation of the 3-Series sedan has been built at Rosslyn and, since 1999, this plant has been responsible for production of vehicles for important export markets such as the US, Canada, Japan, Singapore and Australasia.
"In 2009, when the economic crisis reached its peak, we decided to invest R2.2-billion to increase production capacity in South Africa to produce the new BMW 3 Series sedan.
"This was the clearest statement we could make at the time," Arndt said.
Speaking at an event to commemorate the official start of production of the new model, Arndt, who is also chairman of BMW South Africa, explained that while this investment safeguarded about 2500 jobs in the middle of the recession, it would ultimately lead to signi Lficant increases in production, export and employment in the years to come.
"In 1973, Plant Rosslyn became the first BMW production facility to be established outside Germany," Arndt said, "so it is fitting that, almost 40 years later, production of this new model signals the beginning of a new era of innovation, passion and commitment for the BMW Group in South Africa.
"Even though the global economic outlook remains uncertain, we remain true to our commitment to this production location. By the end of this year, we plan to introduce a third shift. This will significantly increase the installed production capacity above 90000 units.
"It will more than double BMW 3 Series exports from South Africa and it will create 600 new jobs at Rosslyn. This is again a strong signal for our staff, our suppliers and South Africa as an industrial location," Arndt said.
Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, also spoke at the gathering to mark the start of production.
The production launch of the sixth-generation BMW 3 Series marks the start of a new era at the Rosslyn plant.
The new investments have flowed, among other areas, into innovative production equipment and state-of-the-art manufacturing technologies.
Latest-generation robots are at work in the body shop and paint shop.