Today the BMW Group celebrated the opening of its first Driving Center in Asia, located in Incheon, Korea. The investment totals 75.5 million US Dollars up to 2020 (77 billion Korean won), and around100 new jobs have already been created.
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The BMW Group has driving experience centers in both Germany and the US, however the Driving Center in Korea is the first one worldwide to combine both a driving track and a dedicated brand experience. It will open its doors to the public in early August 2014.
At the opening ceremony, Dr. Ian Robertson, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Sales and Marketing BMW, said: “The Driving Center is the next step in our commitment to Korea and to Asia. Korea is one of our fastest growing markets and now our ninth largest single market worldwide. We see more potential here and wish to grow even further. I am very happy that customers here now have more opportunity to fully experience our BMW and MINI brands.”
Concepts such as the Driving Center are part of the BMW Group’s comprehensive “Future Retail” strategy, an approach that marks a significant shift in the way that the company interacts with its customers. This program includes new, innovative and inspiring ways for customers to experience products and brands, such as city center Brand Stores and City Sales Outlets.
The Driving Center accommodates a 2.6 kilometer closed circuit track where drivers can experience a variety of situations, such as high speed driving, emergency and off-road techniques, using BMW and MINI vehicles. The center offers dedicated exhibits around BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad vehicles, a new Junior Campus with specially tailored science education programs on mobility and road safety for children, as well as a 12,000 m2 eco-friendly sports park. In total, the Driving Center covers 240,000 m2, the equivalent of 33 soccer fields.
The facilities will also serve as a new training center for sales, customer service and product training. Furthermore, a Service Center operated by Bavarian Motors, an authorized BMW and MINI dealer, offers customers a service point for minor problems. In addition, BMW and MINI owners can take advantage of the newly established “Airport Service”, where they can leave their cars for maintenance and other care programs during their travels.
As a further sign of commitment to the market, the BMW Group also announced at the ceremony that it has opened a satellite R&D Center in Korea.
Dr. Ian Robertson stated that, “Being one of the most highly-advanced technological nations in the world, customers in South Korea have very specific needs and expectations. Both the BMW Group and South Korea share a passion for high quality products and to be at the forefront of innovation. Therefore we have established this new R&D Center in Korea to better serve the demands of our customers here.”
The R&D Center began operations at the beginning of July. It is expected to have a headcount of around 20 people by the end of 2015.
The benefits of the BMW Group’s extended R&D operations are threefold: the implementation of local customer requirements and market-oriented solutions, to pick up trends in innovation through improved ties with local companies, as well as technology scouting through cooperation with local technology companies, universities and institutes.
It is the fifth satellite R&D Center for the company worldwide, with similar centers already in operation in Japan, China, the US, and Brazil.