BMW SA’s X3 plant shifts up a gear to boost out­put ca­pac­ity


Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS - Ler­ato Matebese

BMW’s man­u­fac­tur­ing plant in Ross­lyn, Tsh­wane re­mains one steeped in his­tory with the Ger­man firm hav­ing been the first man­u­fac­turer to have an ex­port pro­gramme in SA.

This is ac­cord­ing to Ste­fan Huelsen­berg, di­rec­tor of BMW Plant Ross­lyn, who re­cently ad­dressed a con­tin­gent of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ists, in­clud­ing Mo­tor News, at the newly up­graded fa­cil­ity as part of the X3 Xplore me­dia tour pro­gramme hosted for jour­nal­ists.

Hav­ing in­vested R11.5bn since 1996, in­clud­ing the most re­cent R6.1bn since 2015 to switch pro­duc­tion from the long-run­ning 3 Se­ries to the lat­est X3 mid-size SUV, the oper­a­tion runs three eight-hour shifts a day. The up­grades mean the po­ten­tial pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity of the X3 has been raised by 10% com­pared to the 3 Se­ries, which means a max­i­mum an­nual pro­duc­tion of 76,000 units of the new X3 can be achieved.

Since 1994, some 840,000 cars have been ex­ported from the plant with more than 40,000 jobs sup­ported by BMW SA. About R73m has been in­vested in the new BMW Group Train­ing Academy where more than 4,956 dealer staff and 4,680 BMW SA work­ers have learnt new skills to date.

BMW Plant Ross­lyn was awarded the Plat­inum Plant Qual­ity Award in the JD Power 2015 Ini­tial Qual­ity Study (IQS) for pro­duc­ing 3 Se­ries mod­els with the fewest de­fects or mal­func­tions. The award recog­nised it as the best plant in the world in the IQS 2015, mark­ing only the sec­ond time a BMW plant any­where in the world had won a plat­inum award.

Now the plant is shift­ing up an­other gear as part of its re­new­able en­ergy pro­gramme, which will see all BMW Group pro­duc­tion lo­ca­tions move to re­new­able elec­tric­ity sup­ply by 2020. BMW Plant Ross­lyn cur­rently uses 30% re­new­able elec­tric­ity, which is gen­er­ated by the Bio2Watt Bio­gas Plant in Bronkhorstspruit es­tab­lished in 2007. The plant is lo­cated on the premises of one of SA’s larger feed­lots — a Beef­cor-run fa­cil­ity with some 25,000 cat­tle. About 40,000 tonnes of cat­tle ma­nure and 20,000 tonnes of mixed or­ganic waste per an­num are fed into two anaer­o­bic di­gesters in which bio­gas — meth­ane gas — is pro­duced. This then goes into a gas en­gine to pro­duce elec­tric­ity, which is dis­trib­uted into the grid for up­take by power pur­chasers such as BMW. The City of Tsh­wane is also a key sup­plier of waste to the pro­ject.

It re­mains an ex­cel­lent in­no­va­tion, which if done on a larger scale could see a huge re­duc­tion in land­fills due to waste, and re­duce reliance on coal-gen­er­ated elec­tric­ity sup­ply.

As part of the Xplore me­dia tour we also got to sam­ple some X3 diesel vari­ants — the first units to be built at the plant for the lo­cal mar­ket as all the pro­duc­tion has un­til now been ex­ported over­seas (the new­gen­er­a­tion X3s sold in SA thus far have all been im­ports).

We took them for a jaunt around the newly de­vel­oped BMW X Life­style Park (BMW XLP) in Wa­ter­fall, Midrand (be­hind the Mall of Africa shop­ping cen­tre), which has been set up to cater for X mod­els now ac­count­ing for about 30% of the com­pany’s global sales. Sched­uled to open to the pub­lic in Novem­ber 2018, with course mod­ules said to start at R2,750, the fa­cil­ity boasts a 1.3km of­froad track that has been de­vel­oped to show­case the ca­pa­bil­ity of the BMW xDrive sys­tem through 12 off-road mod­ules.

We tried out the fa­cil­ity’s steep in­clines and de­scents, as well as wa­ter wad­ing, sand driv­ing and travers­ing over some rocks. The X3 tack­led the ex­er­cises with great aplomb and the xDrive sys­tem did its best to shuf­fle power to the wheels with the best trac­tion to pull us out of some sticky sit­u­a­tions.

We then nosed our caval­cade of X3s to­wards Mpumalanga and Lim­popo where the ve­hi­cle proved to be just at home on tar­mac as it was on gravel.


The lo­cally built BMW X3 scyth­ing through Mpumalanga roads.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.