Mexico. BMW is purported to be scouting a Mexican location for a new auto plant. Previously the buzz was they were looking at Brazil, and before that . . . I’ve lost count.

The one thing to remember is BMW builds in locations with skilled workers and a good educational system (a continuing supply of good workers). Another good place to look is where are Bosch and ZF (and other tier 1 systems suppliers) located. ZF and Bosch both have facilities scattered throughout Mexico so it wouldn’t be out of the question to see something emerge for BMW in the north central area.

BMW builds 3 series at new plants as a matter of course. The 3er is the vehicle that they know the most about – have a standard in place to judge the assembly quality of the new plant. Once BMW is confident they can build a 3 to standards – and at a rate that makes the plant viable, they’ll move on to other product. See Spartanburg for an example of this in practice.

It also makes sense that this new facility would be tasked with the new 1ers. It’s part of a low tariff area and can supply growing economies (eventually, hopefully) with aspirational vehicles.

Channel Stuffing

Oh noes!1!!, BMW has been caught using sneaky tactics to influence sales numbers. Actually that sentence should read, ‘Oh noes!1!!, <Insert Car Company Name Here> BMW has been caught using sneaky tactics to influence sales numbers.’ See this piece:

Needless to say this has been done since sales numbers influence prestige, but getting caught is not good (and I’m not saying that doing is without getting caught is). It’s an embarrassment and can tarnish an image.  So let’s sit back and see if there’s any fallout. Pass the popcorn . . .

More On Driverless Vehicles

Bertel Schmitt, Editor in Chief at The Truth About Cars, had an interesting piece on driverless cars recently. And having spent my entire adult life in IT, I’m familiar with Murphy and marketing organizations that happen to pose as tech innovators. It will be interesting to see what limp home mode is on a driverless car.

But they are coming. One interesting thought is driverless trucks. Right now there are a lot of issues regarding trucks, driver’s schedules (hours of operation), etc that may push transport companies towards driverless tech. (And that won’t be good for a lot of folks I know.)

But with driverless operation, you could build a truck platform that a container is placed on, all trailer, no cab. Funky hybrid drive systems and multi-wheel steering for ease of docking. The things could run all hours and could reduce shipping times.

I suspect driverless cars will resemble nothing less than tear drops – tropfenwagens, aero as all get out and with minimal appendages to interrupt the airflow. As Chris Bangle mentioned, once the need for accommodating a driver’s senses are obviated, a lot of things can change. Regardless, it will be a brave new world . . .