3 Series BMW to be hecho en Mexico?

According to Automotive News, BMW is considering adding a new plant in Mexico to build the 3 Series. The reason is that Mexico has cheaper wages, tax breaks and other incentives which make production less expensive than in Europe and the US. What Automotive news has apparently forgotten in their reporting of this story is that BMW already produces the 3 Series for the US outside Europe, in a location with cheap wages and other incentives- Roslyn, South Africa. BMW has recently spent a significant sum of money in South Africa upgrading the plant, which has a record of being one of the highest quality auto plants in the world.

BMW ‘s plant in South Carolina has been churning out products for decades now and is being expanded to build the forthcoming X4 and is expected to produce over 300,000 BMWs this year, so BMW is very familiar with building in North America. Audi is in the process of constructing its first plant on the continent in Mexico and Mercedes has several factories in the Southern US to keep costs down and maintain a close to final sale production system.

BMW is the USA ‘s largest exporter of cars, as all BMW X3, X5, and X6 vehicles are built in the US.

Our take on this is that BMW may be looking at a location to build the future front wheel drive BMW and MINI models to keep those costs down but the 3 series seems like a stretch to us considering the production system already in place. BMW is also flirting with NEDCAR in the Netherlands for future MINI and front wheel drive BMW production so this may just be a diversion to get better incentives for that location which is closer to BMW ‘s current suppliers. The BMW Group has also hinted at that they prefer the idea of not building a new factory considering there are many idled now and that initial investment is not needed- you can get a factory for a song these days.

If the Volkswagen Auto Group and their initial attempts at building newer model cars in Mexico (Jetta) is any indicator- local suppliers in Mexico have difficulty hitting standards and it has taken them many years to sort out those issues. Quality has improved but who knows what will happen with a new brand moving in to an unknown territory.

Considering Automotive News is reporting a FWD 1 Series entering production in 2017 (which will debut in a month), we ‘d take this report with a grain of salt.

[Automotive News]
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  • johnparke

    I don’t think it would be good for BMW to build a plant there. Its too unstable right now and I am doubtful it would have a similar quality to the German ones. That being said I am sure the same was said about building a plant in South Africa. So who knows.

  • Andrew Popoola

    I think it will be bad for the brand. BMW is already getting pretty diluted, the only thing going for the entry level bimmers is the magical feel when you drive a BMW; however a few brands have figured that out and have duplicated it with success…the current Mustang even in V6 form drives very well, and if you do some research, the current A6 makes the F10 5er not so desirable. Doing the Mexican thing will only hurt BMW. It is time to refocus BMW, forget about money for a second BMW, your enthusiasts will carry you through.

  • VM

    RIP BMW… I’m still following news about the company but decided to move on to another carmaker (that still make their products in Germany)… After 20 years of loyalty from me and my family… It was a hard move to make as we always been driving Bimmers… But the dilution of the brand as well as their products since the e90 has forced us to move away for the carmaker… Giving access to lower and lower markets (3 series being cheaper and cheaper over the generations, introduction of the 1 series and so forth) and decisions like those (building out of Germany, make cars bigger, heavier and less agile over generations) were the main reasons. RIP BMW. Know that I will always love what you were, but don’t like what you’ve become.

    • BimmerFile_Michael

      Just curious as to what brand you are referring to that still makes all its cars in Germany? Not even Porsche produces all of its products in Germany. MB- No, Audi, No, VW, No… who is it?

      • VM

        Indeed! as of 2012, Porsche brought back the small Boxster production to Leipzig… It’s lineup is now 100% Made In Germany. Even the Cayman (still running the old platform) was brought back to Germany as of 2012. Now let’s just pray that Porsche doesn’t forget it’s roots… I’m a bit scared of the macan and pajun strategy… Mass market products like those might hurt the brand a lot… Thanks to the 50% share of VW… Porsche is on route to dilution… Like BMW, MB and Audi did… Oh well… Let’s hope they can hold on as long as possible ;) By the way Michael, I’ve been following your site for a long time and love it… I’m not doing BMW bashing here as I have been a long time loyal consumer and enthusiast… I just hate to see premium brands going the mass market route and seeing production going out of Germany hurts a lot… After all, us German made car fans love those cars because they are designed, engineered and built in this beautiful country… Filled with people passionate about the quest for perfection.

        • VM

          Correction for the boxster, it’s Sttutgart. Sorry ;)

        • BimmerFile_Michael

          Thanks @VM I was not aware that Porsche moved everything back to Germany. That is sensational! Thanks for reading the site, its appreciated!

          Constructive criticism is what keeps people and companies honest and this is a forum for that. -M