Editor: Jason “The Bok” Date – 01 Sept 2018
There are some weeks which are just simply more special than others. The week starting on Monday 27 August 2018 is a week in which I embarked on a journey in order to discover the proudly South African built BMW X3. From its manufacturing process to its abilities exploring the rugged beauty of Africa’s nature, I was about to embark on a journey to detail the process of a vehicle proudly built in South Africa and driven by the world #BMWX3xPlore.
The BMW X3
In order to embark on the exciting journey, the media were met by a fleet of new BMW X3’s built on SA soil.
From BMW SA’s Plant Rosslyn which has received over R11-billion investment since 1996 (R6-billion towards X3 manufacture), to BMW’s visionary Bio2Watt, the first viable commercial biogas energy project in South Africa and finally BMW Group SA’s X LIFESTYLE Park near the Mall of Africa in Midrand, Johannesburg, the journey of the X3’s ability and overall importance was about to begin.
While many luxury SUV owners keep their vehicles firmly on the tar, as media, to start things off, we were given the first glimpse into the state of the art BMW Group South Africa X LIFESTYLE Park. An off-road driving facility developed in order to put X cars through their paces, and give BMW X drivers the confidence they need to navigate rough terrain and understand the amazing off-road capabilities of their cars, all within the safe confines of a proving ground which is due to open to the public in November of this year.
Wading through as much as 500 mm of water and tackling very tactical off-road scenarios, it was immediately clear that the X3 is much more than premium-built luxury SUV able to envoke sheer driving pleasure on the road. Proudly Built in Mzansi
BMW as a group is no stranger when it comes manufacturing automobiles within South Africa. February 2018 marked a significant milestone for BMW Group South Africa when its Plant Rosslyn produced the 3 Series model for the last time after 35 years of production, and with the total number of units produced sitting at a staggering 1,191,604 vehicles.
In just over the past 20-years, since 1996 BMW Group South Africa have invested over R11 billion with the majority of the investment forming in the iconic Rosslyn Plant, a manufacturing hub which remains one of the leading plants globally for the brand and a JD Power Award Platinum recipient.
Over 1-million units across five generations of 3-Series, countless jobs created and a world-class environmentally friendly facility are just a few of the reasons that as of May this year, BMW Group South Africa despatched the first proudly South African BMW X3 cars for export, transporting more than 100 units on 27 wagons via train to the Port of Durban and for export across the globe.
With an emphasis on three fields of sustainability including, economic success, social responsibility and environmental protection, BMW has made great environmental strides including an 80% reduction of water consumption, and the ability to replace 30 percent of their electricity needs with renewable energy (in the form of methane gas) with the aim to have the entire Rosslyn manufacturing plant run on carbon-neutral energy by the year 2020.
Plant Rosslyn was initially set up with a planned maximum capacity of 71,000 X3’s per year. The demand however quickly brought the need for further expansion and investment, with currently between 300 – 315 X3’s being produced daily (+- 109,500 vehicles per annum).
From BMW South Africa’s state-of-the-art learning centre at the plant which skills new learners to countless job creation and the ever-growing demand for new vehicles to be manufactured, my time spent within Plant Rosslyn certainly showed BMW’s long-standing commitment to South Africa. This commitment includes giving back to communities and donating vehicles for causes of improvement including The Rhino Orphanage, a registered non-profit company based in the Limpopo which rehabilitates rhinos.
Having experienced the breath-taking advanced vehicle manufacture and putting the X3 through its paces at BMW’s new X LIFESTYLE park, the fleet of X3’s set-off to explore some of the most incredible landscapes within South Africa and see some incredible wildlife on the way, as we embarked from Irene towards the breathtaking Makalali Lodge situated west of the Kruger National Park.
Along the way, I spent many hours behind the wheel of the X3 and covered well over 1000 km, an adventure filled with many different road surfaces, obstacles and ultimately memories created while driving a vehicle which is a statement of unlimited opportunities and an expression of sheer presence, the #BMWX3xPlore tour was an experience which I will always treasure and one which proves a brands commitment to building exceptional vehicles in a proudly South African way.