BMW plans to launch 15 new cars this year

Chennai: German luxury car maker BMW said the localisation level in the cars it makes in India has reached up to 50 per cent and it plans to introduce 15 new models this year.

Cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar marked the occasion at the company's manufacturing unit at Mahindra World City, Singaperumalkovil near here, by formally assembling a BMW 5 Series car using parts from Indian auto-component suppliers.

The company said 50 per cent of the 2,800 parts used in this series are now produced locally.

BMW began operations at the Chennai plant on March 29, 2007. Since then, the group has strengthened its commitment to the Indian market and has continuously increased the number of locally produced car models.

Eight car models are produced on two assembly lines at the BMW Plant Chennai plant - 1 Series, 3 Series, 3 Series Gran Turismo, 5 Series, 7 Series, X1, X3, and X5.

"In 2015 we will expand our product range and cover all the opportunity available in the luxury car segment. This year we will launch 15 new products along with i8 launched in January. We will also launch 1 Series, 3 Series, (new models)," BMW Group India President, Philipp von Sahr told reporters.

He said: "Till date, BMW Group has increased investments to Rs 4.9 billion (Rs 490 crore) in BMW India from Rs 3.9 billion."

BMW activities in India include the manufacturing plant in Chennai, a parts warehouse in Chennai, a training Centre in Gurgaon. The company has 40 sales outlet in India.

Some of the major auto components sourced for local production of cars at BMW Plant are engine and transmission from Force Motors, axles from ZF Hero Chassis; door panels and wiring harness from Draexlmaier India; exhaust systems from Tenneco Automotive India, heating and ventilating, air-conditioning and cooling modules from Valeo India.

After formally assembling a 5 Series car, Tendulkar said, "I am an avid BMW enthusiast and have been driving BMW cars since a very long time. But the experience of making a BMW with my own hands is unforgettable.

"I am impressed by the high quality standards followed at BMW Plant Chennai that ensure impeccable performance of a BMW."

BMW Plant Chennai, Managing Director, Robert Frittrang said as many as 2,800 parts go into making of BMW 5 series car and more than half of the parts were locally produced.

On the employee strength at the plant, Frittrang said: "We have about 550 people. Actually BMW cars in Chennai plant are Made in India and Made by Indians."

To a query from Tendulkar on the cars made in India and those BMW cars made in any other manufacturing plant, Frittrang said: "I have been with BMW for 20 years to secure the quality of BMW. I can guarantee that the car built in India is the same as a car built in BMW factory anywhere in the world."

On increasing the local content of the cars assembled at the plant, Tendulkar said: "Basically, I am a car enthusiast and I have seen same precision and passion in these guys (plant employees). As an Indian I am extremely proud that 50 per cent of components are built in India".

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