BMW South Africa intends to follow up its successes of 2002 with “dynamic progress” in 2003 and beyond, says the company’s managing director, Ian Robertson.

BMW South Africa intends to follow up its successes of 2002 with “dynamic progress” in 2003 and beyond, says the company’s managing director, Ian Robertson.

Robertson said South Africa had played an integral part in the BMW Group's global success.

"We are extremely happy with our performance to date in current market conditions that show little or limited growth." said Robertson. "Our sales for 2002, particularly those of our flagship models were well beyond expectations. Our production volumes at Rosslyn and our export program continue to expand, which is good for us and good for South Africa. The future looks very good," he added.

A new sales record for BMW

In 2002, BMW South Africa achieved a sales record, breaking the 20 000 barrier for the first time with a total of 20 889 units (including 898 Mini units) sold during the year. This represented an increase of 9,8 per cent compared with 2001 and gave BMW South Africa a market share of 8,7 per cent - the highest market share of any subsidiary in the BMW world.

"The 3-Series (saloon, coupé, convertible and compact) outsold its nearest rival by 636 units in the compact executive category. In the medium luxury car segment, which includes the 5-Series and X5, BMW notched up 3 505 units as opposed to 3 024 units sold by the nearest competitor. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which was introduced into the market last year, outsold the six-year-old 5-Series by 78 units," a BMW spokesman said.

"In the grand saloon segment the new 7-Series achieved sales of 651 units for the year. This resulted in BMW commanding a 32,6 per cent share of the segment in contrast with the 22,4 per cent of its nearest competitor," he added.

Production volume hits 55 555 mark

BMW SA built 55 555 units at its Rosslyn assembly plant last year – the highest yearly production volume the manufacturer has achieved. The last car rolled off the line at 10.30pm on December 12 at the end of what was the last shift of the year.

Almost 80 per cent of the units produced by BMW SA last year were exported. Primary markets for South African manufactured BMWs are the United States (22 000 units or 47 per cent) and Japan (13 000 units or 18 per cent). Australia received 5 500 units or eight per cent of production while the balance went to New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. Export production was up 18 per cent in 2002 with over 43 000 units leaving South Africa as compared with 36 750 in 2001.

Updates to the Rosslyn facility

According to Robertson, major additions and modifications are currently underway at the Rosslyn Plant, including substantial extensions to the body manufacturing and assembly complex. A R300-million preparation plant is currently being commissioned as an extension to the existing water-based paint facility.

It was anticipated that the upgraded plant would be capable of producing 60 000 units per annum. This would, Robertson said, result in a substantial increase in BMW's export capacity to R50 billion over the lifecycle of future models.

Robertson said: “Since BMW's 1998 investment in the upgrade of the Rosslyn plant, a major positive impact has resulted in the critical areas of quality, on-time delivery and productivity. BMW staff numbers increased by almost 900 between 1998 and 2001, but also by the creation of over 18 000 downstream jobs within BMW's South African component supplier network”.

The growing export programme has resulted in BMW South Africa putting over R3,5 billion into the pockets of South African business per year, Robertson claimed.

Successes for BMW Motorcycles and Finance

BMW's share of the “big-bike” motorcycle market (>500 cc) was the largest in South Africa (42 per cent). BMW motorcycle sales increased by 13 per cent last year - with six out of the 10 best selling bikes in South Africa being BMWs.

In addition, nearly R2,5 billion in business was generated by BMW South Africa's finance and insurance operation. The figure was up 17 per cent on the 2001 figure of just over R2 billion.

Accolades for BMW SA

As CARtoday.com reported in June last year, BMW's Rosslyn plant was awarded the J. D. Power European Gold Plant Quality Award, ranking it first among European plants for quality and beating major car manufacturing plants throughout the world. The annual Worldwide Assembly Plant Quality Awards were based on findings from the just-released J. D. Power 2002 Initial Quality Study (IQS). Rosslyn was included in the "Europe" section of this evaluation and as such was measured against all manufacturers' automotive plants in Europe.

BMW South Africa further won three awards in the 2002 Technology Top 100 Awards Program. The company won the overall award for Automotive Assemblers and was also recognized with special awards for the company's work in Social and Environmental Responsibility and Productivity Excellence.