Big Lou’s BMW

Yes I purchased an new 2014 BMW 328d with Xdrive and for the second time since joining the BMW family I took delivery at the BMW Velt in Munich.  However, before I describe my day at the Velt lets briefly go back to yesterday and my trip to Munich from Paris.  As you may remember out of the three previous trips on France’s TGV two of them had mechanical problems that caused delays.  Yesterday’s experience was completely different.  On a day when it would not stop raining the train left on time and arrived on time in Stuttgart.  My connecting ICE train to Munich also left on time and also arrived at the Munich Hbf on time.  My hotel was four blocks from the Hbf so even in the heavy mist I was able to walk to the hotel. 

After a somewhat restless night, I arose and got ready to meet my new car.  I even wore a travel dress shirt for the occasion.  When I left for the Welt, at 10:00 AM it was misting but that was better than the weather was an hour before when the rain was coming down in my mother would have said was “buckets".  

The trip to the Welt could not have been easier.  I just had to go to the Hbf and take the UBahn Number U2 to Sendlinger and then transfer to the the U3 and get off at Olympia Zentrum where i walked up out of the UBahn and then walked about 1,000 feet to the entrance of the BMW Velt.

I took the elevator to the third level where folks who are scheduled to take delivery of their new BMW register, and sign the appropriate paper work.  Once that was complete all I had to do is wait till 4:50 PM to meet my new BMW. 

In the meantime I scheduled a BMW plant tour.  The two hour tour was really cool and very educational and gave me a much better appreciation for what goes into making these cars.  Let me say at the outset that I wish the tour could have been for four hours it is so interesting to watch cars being assembled and how robotics have changed the way cars are built.  They are very strict about the use of photography at the plant ao I put my camera in a locker and turned off my iPhone as we were all asked to due during the tour.

The 3 and 4 series are all built at BMW’s first plant which was built in 1924.  It is an historical building on a huge campus that part of a much larger complex of various other building that co-exists quite comfortably with it’s Munich neighbors. 

We started in the stamping line.  This is where the various parts of the body are cold stamped out of anti corrosive steel.  This entire process is automated.  Humans and technology keep constant checks on the quality of the stamping process.  After that we watched the various body parts being put together using glue and various types of welds. Glue is used as part of the anti corrosive process.  The tour guide said that the glue was just as strong as a weld. All of this was also done using robots.  These machines move like human beings It is amazing, and also a little scary. They seem to work as a team one robot picking up a body part and another picking up the body part that needs to joined to the other and a third to weld and or glue the various parts together.   We were then off to the paint shop but on the way we looked at about 1,000 BMW’s in a multi-level automated warehouse.  These bodies are waiting to be pulled so they can be assembled to each customer’s specification whether it be for a BMW dealer or an individual customer.  This is all computerized and from that warehouse, once the car’s body begins assembly, each stage is scheduled in advance so when the car reaches each assembly point the everything that car is supposed to contain is waiting to be installed.  The line does not stop unless there is a mechanical breakdown.  Everything in the assembly process is just in time.  Very impressive.

When we got to the paint shop we saw how the car was dipped in electrically charged water to make the paint go directly onto the body with no dripping or running.  What little paint does not make it onto the car drops down into an in-house closed water system which captures the excess paint, is recycled.  The recycling process removes the paint particles from the water then the in house water returns to be used in the paint process all over again.  The process is repeated over and over again saving millions of gallons of water.  First the robots paint the exterior.  Next the paint robots opened the doors, trunk and hood and then painted the interior, then closed them all before the car moved to the next station. The car now goes to the drying room and then to assembly line so the body can be paired with the chassis.  Next we saw the engine assembly lines.  Just amazing how robots can literally fling these engines like you or I handling a book.  The robots even installed the various gaskets.  Now it was time to witness the body and chassis being joined, then the battery being installed, the wiring harness, the seats, dashboard and before we knew it the car is finished where it is gassed up and started.  The wheels and lights are then aligned and the car is put on a dynamo.  And that was the tour.  The whole process is pretty mind boggling but what I could not get over was how clean the entire operation was.  I couldn’t find a speck of dust, dirt or paint anywhere.  We were told that every person is responsible for keeping their work area clean and there is a large team of folks who keep the rest of the plant squeeky clean.

After the tour I went back up to the the 3rd floor lounge where I had lunch then went and took a BMW key ring, which was given to me once all the paper work was signed, to have it engraved with the words, "Big Lou’s BMW".  Thank you Larry O’ Leary for giving me a nick name I actually love.

Once that was complete I went across campus and visited the BMW Museum.  It is a museum devoted to the history of BMW from it beginnings as an air craft engine company, to a motorcycle company to a company that still produces motorcycles, BMW, Mini and Roll Royce automobiles.

Then all of a sudden it was just 30 minutes till I was to meet my car so I thought I’d better get back to the 3rd floor lounge where I would meet the representative from the Welt who would take me to meet my car and go over everything with me.  At the appointed time, 4:50 PM, I was met by Nichole who was extremely gracious and she and I went to meet my 328d with Xdrive.  I gave Nichole my iPhone and she took a video of my new BMW turning on a turntable while I just looked.  I’ve got to say I felt somewhat giddy looking at the car rotating on that turntable.  I’ll provide a link to the video at the end of this blog posting.  After we walked down the ramp or was it the steps, I don’t remember.  Nichole and I were greeted by the official BMW Welt photographer who took a picture of me standing next to the car and just before I left I was given a print of the picture and very classy flash drive with a digital copy of the picture as well.

Although I was not driving away in the car Nichole and I still spent an hour going over the various functions and safety features of the car which seems light years ahead of my wonderful 2006 330xi.  There is still a lot to learn so rather that try to learn it now only to forget it while I travel for another 67 days I’ll leave the rest to my BMW dealer.  The car will now be trucked over to the shipping point and then loaded on a boat for transport to the United States.  If all goes according to plan the car shold arrive at my BMW dealer in about six to eight weeks.  It should be waiting for me when I arrive home on September 16.

The whole experience was quite wonderful and the fine folks at the BMW Welt certainly helped made it a fine day indeed.  Thank you Nichole for the introduction to my new BMW.

Here is the link to the video.  

Tomorrow and Sunday will be tough.  I have to catch a plane to Barcelona at about 4:20 PM.  Its about a two hour flight.  Then tomorrow catch a train to Madrid and then make a connecting train to Sevelle.  Then my nine days of traveling hell will be over.  Of course I’ll keep you informed of my progress.  I wish for a couple of short blogs tonight and tomorrow. © Louis M. Skypala 2014