BMW Welt - Pilgrimage to the Heart of Automotive Industry

BMW is not the oldest brand in the automotive industry, and definitely not the largest one by sales or production. It's also often seen...

BMW is not the oldest brand in the automotive industry, and definitely not the largest one by sales or production. It's also often seen as too conservative when it comes to its design and playing catch-up in the electric vehicle market, reluctant to leave their famous gas-powered internal combustion engines behind. But there is something in BMW that attracts and retains so many loyal fans throughout the world, so I decided to visit its headquarters in Munich, Germany and take a plant tour to see myself how legendary BMW cars are produced.

To my biggest disappointment, "No Cameras" rule was strictly enforced throughout the tour, so you'll see no pictures or videos from the plant. Instead, I'm going to tell you some interesting facts that I wrote down after the tour, and show you my pictures from BMW Welt, a museum and a show room at the BMW headquarters in Munich, right next their first ever plant. 
By the way, the BMW office tower is designed like a 4-cylinder engine. 
BMW business started in 1916 with producing airplane engines, then motorcycles, and only in 1923 - cars. 
The plant in Munich has been in operations since 1922, and despite what many people (myself included) have thought, it only produced 3 series and M4 cars. All other cars are produced elsewhere with the largest plan (5,000,000 sq m / 1,150 acres) being in South Carolina, US. 
Normally, each plant has 2 stories, however the one in Munich has 5-6 stories as the space is very limited. In 1922, the plant was at the city's outskirts, but now it's very close to its core. 
The plant produces about 1,000 cars per day, non-stop 24 hours 5 days a week, with absolutely all vehicles made on a prior order from clients (no inventory). 
The workflow at the plant is designed with a German precision and punctuality in mind, so that each worker, whatever he or she is doing, spends between 58 and 64 seconds per car.
The car manufacturing includes a press shop, a body assembly shop, a paint and a finishing shops. Each shop has its own distinct smell. Do you know what BMW uses to blow dust away before painting? A roller with emu feathers! They replace it every 6 months.
Each robot at the plant costs between 80,000 and 280,000 US dollars. A precision of 0.01 mm / 0.0004 inch requires a lot of investment. My favourite part of the plant tour was when robots perform an initial body part assembly.  
33% of a car's price goes back to R&D (Research and Development), one of the largest proportion in the industry. This allows BMW to keep on being innovative and relevant to its clients.
A quality control uses image recognition to identify defects by comparing an actual result with a benchmark. 
BMW hasn't always been as successful as it is now. In 1950s, in the aftermath of the WWII, it was in a deep trouble with a huge dept. A small car called Isetta was meant to change the situation, but was of little help. 
The recession continued until 1961 when BMW introduced a compact sedan 1500 which would later become a legendary 3 series. That's it from me. If you want to learn more, you should come visit a BMW plant by yourself. You'll like it!

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