A glimpse into BMW’s electric future

Written by: Anazi Zote Piper

In a rapidly evolving automotive landscape, BMW positions itself at the forefront of technological innovation.

Over the past few days BMW has hosted its Transformation Days by inviting media from across the globe to witness first-hand cutting-edge technology and brand heritage. Wowed by the ground-breaking electrification technology and the brand’s advancements towards electric vehicles, media representatives had the opportunity to get behind the wheel to test drive the latest BMW models. I was grateful to be invited as one of those media to be afforded this experience.

Plant Roslyn
A cornerstone of BMW’s legacy in Africa is the Roslyn manufacturing plant, located in Pretoria. The state-of-the-art facility has been producing BMW vehicles for over four decades, contributing significantly to the local economy and solidifying the brand’s commitment to South Africa. Participants were treated to an in-depth look at the production process, witnessing the meticulous craftsmanship and technological advancements that define BMW’s manufacturing standards. Plant Rosslyn has produced more than 1.6 million vehicles to date and has been exporting them to more than 40 countries worldwide. The total amount of investment in the production has been R16.13 bn Euros since 1996.

What’s next?
The plant has taken a pioneering role for BMW Group when it comes to sustainability. As a blue print for social, environmental and economic sustainability, Plant Roslyn is now transitioning to the production of electric vehicles. To make this a reality, BMW Group is investing a whopping R4.2 billion. Specialist training is now in action for more than 300 employees to upskill them for the electromobility revolution.

As part of the investment for 2024, Plant Roslyn will manufacture the BMW X3 as a plug-in hybrid for global export. It marks a crucial step towards advancing the development of efficient, digitalised and resource-friendly car production.

Dr Niklas Fichtmüller, Director of BMW Roslyn Plant is ecstatic about Roslyn plants’ advancements to produce electric vehicles and says, “A majority of the world is moving towards electrified vehicles, so it’s also important for us to follow that same route. The next-generation PHEV is coming exclusively from South Africa. So that’s a real good development from our side and we are looking forward to this car coming.”

As the transition towards electric becomes more apparent, so does the transition towards renewable energy. BMW will also create a power purchase agreement to deliver a solar photovoltaic system that will provide electricity for the plant. Media representatives were further led to privy to insights from BMW executives and engineers, shedding light on the brand’s vision for the next generation of mobility.

BMW’s Digital Twin Hub
One of the most exciting developments from the BMW IT Hub is the Digital Twin. The digital twin shows a holistic digital representation of a vehicle and its lifecycle on both hardware and software levels. It plays a part in BMW Group’s sustainability strategy, in efforts to increase the percentage of secondary materials used in vehicles. It’s currently live and delivering good value. BMW saves R39 323 040,00 (2 million Euros) in one of its markets where the Digital Twin is used.

BMW South Africa stands as a beacon of innovation and progress as it charters through an  uncertain automotive landscape in South Africa, but it will soon leave an inedible mark on the global automotive sector.

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