BMW SA has pumped R160 million into its Rosslyn plant as it prepares to begin production of the group’s fastest-growing model and discontinue production of the popular 3 Series early next year.
During the official launch of the 2018 BMW X3 model that is set to be produced, Tim Abbot, chief executive of BMW SA said the expansion – which includes a new training centre – would increase the plant’s capacity from 71 000 units to 76 000 units, a 10% increase.
Abbot said the move was in line with the global car sales trend which showed that more people were buying sports-activity and sports-utility models, making BMW’s X models the fastest-selling range in the group.
“In 2016, more than 30% of all BMWs sold globally were X models,” he said.
BMW X models, part of the brand’s sports activity vehicle range, accounted for more than 30% of total global sales for the brand last year while the BMW X3 accounted for almost a quarter, at 24%.
The plant, which was established in 1973, would be one of three X3-specific plants across the group’s entire network – the other two were in China and the US – and will also be producing the proudly South African BMW X3 for the local and international market, with one of the biggest overseas targets being Germany, the brand’s home country.
The model will also be exported to Belgium, Italy, Austria, Portugal, Malta, Sweden, France, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia, Denmark, the United Kingdom and Spain.
Speaking to City Press, Abbott said no jobs would be lost despite bringing the facility’s increased use of robots. In fact, more jobs might be created, he said, but not directly by the company.
“We will produce more jobs. We can’t say how many. The car is more complex and therefore we aren’t [decreasing] the number of jobs here in Rosslyn,” he said.
Abbot said the plant would also use a higher number of local suppliers.
“If you look at the whole network with the dealer network as well, we have about 40 000 people who are reliant on BMW being here,” he said adding that there was definitely a significant increase of local component supply.
Though the move was most likely going to affect the retail price of the 3 Series – because these vehicles would all be imported – BMW said the company could not tell how the price would be affected.
Abbott said the production of the next generation BMW 3 Series had been allocated to a plant in Munich and a new plant in Mexico.
Retail pricing would be affected by a number of factors, including currency fluctuations.
“Please appreciate that we are not able to confirm the percentage difference between the current generation and the next generation BMW 3 Series in advance. We will communicate this closer to the time of the local market launch,” Lynette Kamineth, BMW SA spokesperson said.