Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Interesting Facts about BMW in the U.S.

New Investment in the U.S.: Almost $1 billion over the next three years to expand the 4.4 million square foot BMW complex in Spartanburg, S.C. to produce the new BMW X4 (pictured above).

Number of new jobs to be added this year in U.S.: 300

Total number of BMW jobs in South Carolina: 7,500

Number of BMWs produced in the U.S. since 1994: 2,000,000

Number of BMWs produced in the U.S. in 2011: 276,065 

Percentage of U.S.-made BMWs exported in 2011: 70% (192,813)

Number of export markets for U.S.-made BMWs: 130 

Source: IndustryWeek

42 Comments:

At 2/22/2012 1:18 AM, Blogger Seth said...

The NLRB didn't have any trouble with BMW putting jobs in SC? Just Boeing?

 
At 2/22/2012 6:39 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

that's because when other countries "outsource" to this country - it's okay!

:-)


I read somewhere that auto workers in Germany get something like $68 an hour and that does not include health care which is provided separately.

so perhaps Germany is outsourcing for "cheaper" labor?

:-)

the other thing to observe is that manufacturing now days is highly automated and there are news reports that companies cannot find enough qualified workers for the automated plants which needs more than just manual labor assembly workers.

South Carolina may be a sleeper as it is not noted for having a highly skilled workforce.

 
At 2/22/2012 7:48 AM, Blogger W.C. Varones said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2/22/2012 7:50 AM, Blogger W.C. Varones said...

Currency devaluation and high unemployment do wonders for domestic manufacturing!

Four more years for Bernanke and Obama!

 
At 2/22/2012 9:55 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

A 2008 economic analysis by the university of South Carolina provides important insights about BMW and its growing presence in South Carolina. According to this study, the strong technical education system of South Carolina was an important factor in BMW's selection of that state over the others who competed for the plant.

I'm confident that South Carolina's right-to-work laws were another factor.

The SC economists determined that the BMW plant supported 23,050 local jobs in 2007. BMW had invested over $5 billion in SC by 2007, and more was planned for 2008 - 2010. The recently announced $1 billion was likely planned for that time period but delayed due to the economic recession.

IMO, companies do not choose major capital investments based on short term economic conditions. So I doubt that Bernanke's money policy was a factor in BMW's decision. I suppose it could have affected the timing of the actual investment, but I really doubt that also.

Over 20 years, BMW has continued to commit increasing capital to South Carolina. So have the numerous companies which supply goods and services to the Spartanburg plant. If anyone deserves credit for this economic success, it is certainly not Obama and Bernanke. Rather, credit should go to the voters of South Carolina who supported right-to-work laws and who funded the public technical education system in that state.

 
At 2/22/2012 10:11 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Jet Beagle,

The link you posted shows two pictures of a company that violates simple OSHA regulations and either does not know better or does not care about the violations (welding on galvanized sheet metal without breathing filtration and with a metal lock hanging on a beltloop, and a woman working under a raised hood of a car without a bumpcap or hardhat). If BMW shows that to the public, how safe is their actual operations?

 
At 2/22/2012 10:28 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Walt G,

The voters and the workers in South Carolina love BMW. Who cares about your "findings"?

 
At 2/22/2012 10:52 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

ironically, this is also why BMW's reliability scores have dropped.

the cars they make in the US have significantly higher (maybe 30%) problems per 100 cars in the first 2 years.

the x5 in particular has been an issue the the M version, made in bavaria, has not (i love mine).

my understanding is that japanese cars made in the US have higher defect rates than those made in japan as well.

 
At 2/22/2012 11:27 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Jet Beagle,

The guy who can't breathe in a few years from breathing the toxic fumes and the girl with the closed head injury from the hood falling on her head will care if they are still around. I've seen dead people, chopped up people, cut people, impaled people, and burned to a crisp people on job sites. This can be scary shit. Don't take your health and safety for granted: most of them did.

Something is wrong with both pictures, and the remedy is rather simple. Do you suppose there is a huge cost savings to work unsafely this way or the employer just does not care? I really hate to think they do not know any better.

 
At 2/22/2012 3:28 PM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Walt G,

BMW has been very successful in South Carolina for 20 years. Although I'm sure you can find some malcontents, the word I've heard is that employees are happy to have the well-paying jobs created by BMW and others. The voters of South Carolina are happy that private enterprise has greatly improved the South Carolina economy. I doubt they give a damn about your concerns.

As I see it, it is agitators such as you who would ruin the prosperity of our nation. I have no problem if you want to educate the workforce of BMW about how their employer is "endangering" their lives. I have a huge problem when you want your precious liberal-ass government to force your desires on those people who apparently are very happy with what they have right now.

 
At 2/22/2012 4:11 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"The link you posted shows two pictures of a company that violates simple OSHA regulations and either does not know better or does not care about the violations "

LOL!

Leave it to good old Walt G.

I'm sure that based on your "findings", and the thousands of others violations that must exist, the Spartanburg plant has since been closed. :)

Oh, it hasn't?

You are a riot sometimes.

You probably didn't notice that the welder also has a Bic lighter in his pocket.

Is it possible that OSHA safety requirements are met by methods not detectable by you based only on those pictures, or that you are not totally familiar with OSHA ,requirements?

After all, even OSHA inspectors get confused.

It's really hard to imagine that a company like BMW would allow 2 pictures to be chosen, from the many thousands available, that showed blatant violations of OSHA rules to the world, don't you think?

Perhaps OSHA inspectors in SC Live well above their visible means.

It seems that if you had your way, Spartanburg would soon become another Detroit.

 
At 2/22/2012 4:15 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2/22/2012 4:20 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Morganovich: "my understanding is that japanese cars made in the US have higher defect rates than those made in japan as well."

While this may be true, I believe the actual numbers are so low as to make such a comparison fairly meaningless to the typical buyer.

 
At 2/22/2012 4:30 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Why is someone an agitator who just wants to see everybody come how alive and with all their body part after work? About 14 a day don't make it through the workday. Would you like to explain your "anti liberal" viewpoints to their widows? I’ve watched when someone was told their husband died at work or had his hand or fingers cut off. Sure, even the safest operations can have accidents, but why would a company like BMW openly flaunt their safety violations to the public unless it is ingrained in their culture?

This not a joking matter at all. Worker safety should very simply transcend any right and left viewpoints. I bet a superintendent at Massey Energy is not laughing today.

Ron H.,

I am very familiar with OSHA regulations because that is part of what I do. PPE (hard hat or bump cap) is required for the hood over the head without visible restraints (gravity hazard) and galvanized sheet metal welding requires either a respirator or fumes removed from above the welding ignition source (that's why this job is usually done by a robot at most GM plants). If BMW does not approve of these rules, they can appeal if for a waiver if they can demonstrate what is asked cannot be done. I can see no respirator/vent hose or bump cap and these cannot be hidden.

 
At 2/22/2012 4:46 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I have to teach tonight (Rules and Regulations for service management--no kidding). "Google" OSHA galvanized sheet metal welding ventilation and pit safety head protection (PPE) if you want the exact sections numbers.

 
At 2/22/2012 5:27 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt G: "...but why would a company like BMW openly flaunt their safety violations to the public unless it is ingrained in their culture?"

An excellent question, and it's really hard to imagine what the answer might be, but it's even harder to imagine how these blatant violations have gone entirely unnoticed by EVERYONE since this report was published 3 1/2 years ago, and only today - finally - detected by you when you followed Jet's link.

The mind boggles.

 
At 2/22/2012 6:04 PM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Walt G: "Why is someone an agitator who just wants to see everybody come how alive and with all their body part after work?"

I'm certain that everyone, including BMW management and shareholders, want that. But what you want is for the federal government to mandate what you and your liberals believe should be done. You certainly appear to want a nanny state.

I, on the other hand, believe that humans are capable of deciding for themselves what risks they should take.

As I said before, I have no problem with you trying to convince BMW and its employees how they should work. I have a huge problem with the federal government imposing its will on that company and its employees.

It's called freedom, Walt. It's what I believe in, but perhaps not what you believe in.

 
At 2/22/2012 6:04 PM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 2/22/2012 6:14 PM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Walt G: "Worker safety should very simply transcend any right and left viewpoints."

You're not just promoting worker safety. You're promoting government restrictions on freedom.

Removal of restrictions on freedom should transcend any right and left viewpoints - except that restricting freedom is the whole point of the left.

 
At 2/22/2012 8:41 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Jet Beagle,

I am probably not very objective about this. Having people cut in half and removed in two pieces from a machine makes me think no job can be too safe. I want a state where people live to go home to their families. Even if the guy who died wanted to die, people who had to tear apart the machine to get him out were never the same again and none of them went back to work. Do you support the idea of killing yourself and possibly taking other people with you as freedom?

Risk can be lowered but never completely removed. That's why OSHA requires every standardized work assignment to have a written plan of hazard assessment and PPE protection. That's the first thing that OSHA will ask for during an accident/fatality investigation. The second will be if the employee was trained in the proper PPE and the safety requirements of the job were clearly communicated to the employee. And the third will be written documentation of regular enforcement. I read these accident investigations every day for every GM location worldwide and include them in my written maintenance plans when needed.

I wish you a safe and happy life at work and at home.

 
At 2/22/2012 8:48 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

The mind boggles."

I will use the pictures at our next safety meeting as a "what is wrong with these pictures" item. I can almost guarantee you everyone there will see the violations pretty quickly. The blatant violations make me think the pictures were probably poorly staged for a photo-op. You HAVE to wear head protection in open pits and ALWAYS vent galvanized welding operations from above. This is really basic stuff.

 
At 2/23/2012 1:40 AM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Walt: "The blatant violations make me think the pictures were probably poorly staged for a photo-op."

Are you backing away from your earlier suggestion that unsafe practices are a way of life at BMW SC?

 
At 2/23/2012 6:43 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"Are you backing away from your earlier suggestion that unsafe practices are a way of life at BMW SC?"

Just exploring alternative reasons why they would show these pictures. I can see PR making a mistake like this because they thought the girl looked better without the bump cap/hard hat, but I did not see the usual PR diversity angle they use by showing a picture of a black guy or woman.

These are really very basic violations, and BMW safety should know better. Someone blew it.

 
At 2/23/2012 10:39 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

"Walt G: "...but why would a company like BMW openly flaunt their safety violations to the public unless it is ingrained in their culture?"

have you considered the possibility that it was just PR photo and the photographer just though it looked better that way?

they may well work with hardhats and not under hoods but some PR flak may have decided that this looked good and felt "auto-planty".

 
At 2/23/2012 10:44 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

also:

is there any evidence that the BMW plant has a high accident or injury rate?

if not, it seems to bolster the "this was just a PR shot" theory.

surely if they were consistently doing unsafe things and had such ingrained in their culture as you propose, then it would show up in the accident/injury rate.

has it done so?

 
At 2/23/2012 10:54 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

morganovich,

Yes, I considered a PR angle above. I work in a GM sheet metal assembly plant partly in compliance and regulations (EPA, DNR, FAA, OSHA, plumbing and drinking water . . .).

Hand MIG welding galvanized steel body assemblies went out in the 1990s and robots, resistance welding (spot welding), and/or button hemmings took over to join sheet metal because the welding was too dangerous and/or expensive. Pre-1990 cars did not commonly use galvanized body panels and they usually rusted through in three or four years in the northern, salted-road states, but they were safer to weld on.

 
At 2/23/2012 11:19 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I am not familiar with BMW’s safety record. Their process does not have union oversight before they turn their required documentation over to OSHA like GM has, and their workers can get fired for getting hurt without recourse. That could affect the data.

Additionally, the newer auto manufacturers have younger workforces and many work-related health problems happen over 20 or 30 years. BMW has only been around in the U.S. since 1994 (breathing and repetitive action injuries especially take a while to manifest). Let see how many have health related issues in their 60s and 70s to make a better comparison.

 
At 2/23/2012 11:53 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

w-

it sounds to me like you are making a ton of assumptions and have little or no factual evidence for your issues with BMW.

the germans are pretty notably safety conscious.

you seem to be taking a couple of very likely staged PR shots and extrapolating them into an assumed culture of negligence.

that seems like a real stretch to me.

 
At 2/23/2012 12:19 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

"that seems like a real stretch to me."

Could be. There's still some bad judgement letting those pictures out, and this report was paid for by BMW. I would not brag up my union brothers and then show pictures of them drinking beer and smoking cigarettes in a bar :)

 
At 2/23/2012 2:43 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Morganovich,

I know this is off topic, but since we're on car talk, I read something I thought you'd be interested in.
Have you heard about the Tesla battery issues? Apparently, if you allow the battery to go to zero charge (which has happened while the car is plugged in using an extension cord) the battery is permanently cooked.
When the battery is cooked you can't even tow the car because the wheels will not spin. The only thing an owner can do is pay for very expensive shipping to the factory where they will replace your battery for the low price of $40,000. Nothing in the warranty or battery replacement plan will cover this.

Tesla says the issue isn’t a technical problem so much as an issue of properly maintaining the vehicle....but they don't really warn you in the manual.

Google: 'It's a brick Tesla' and you'll see several stories.

 
At 2/23/2012 3:12 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

mike-

had not heard that.

it may be a part of the charge management system, but it seems like a pretty severe design flaw if this is true.

frankly, anyone buying a tesla in the first place needs their head examined. it's a terrible car. handles like a pickup truck.

for the money, you can have a serious sports car.

no idea why you'd want that pile of junk.

i have a good friend in the EV industry (founded a co that makes all electric racing dirtbikes, very cool stuff, i want one)

http://www.faster-faster.com/

will ask him about this. he tends to here stuff.

 
At 2/23/2012 3:17 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

if it is true - then no one is going to buy a Telsa.. right?

I doubt it is true. They're toast otherwise.

 
At 2/23/2012 3:18 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"There's still some bad judgement letting those pictures out, and this report was paid for by BMW."

it would hardly be the first time that marketing and PR folks were a bit out of step with reality.

i think you're being a bit hard on them.

it's not like kids are going to see this and try it at home.

without any actually evidence that the floor runs that way, i think you have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

 
At 2/23/2012 3:21 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I never thought much of BMW "quality" anyhow.

they have a reputation for world-class engineering but their cars break more than they should and when they do it costs an arm/leg to fix them.

 
At 2/23/2012 3:30 PM, Blogger Mike said...

I believe the Tesla story to be true based on what I read today...the Tesla chief isn't denying the problem or saying it's overblown, he says it's the car owners fault for not keeping it charged.

The big problem is coming when 'normal folk' will be able to but the $49k version (after tax incentive, of course)...not only are they going to be more likely to let the car run out of juice, they'll be less likely to be able to afford $40k to replace the battery.

 
At 2/23/2012 3:37 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"they have a reputation for world-class engineering but their cars break more than they should and when they do it costs an arm/leg to fix them."

only at the low end.

it's the price people pay for interiors etc on a cheap 3 series.

i have 85k miles on an m3 and 45k on the m version of the x5, and they have been flawless.

audi is now similarly excellent.

if you want issues, get a low end mercedes. they are real junk.

 
At 2/23/2012 3:41 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

morganovich: "i have a good friend in the EV industry (founded a co that makes all electric racing dirtbikes, very cool stuff..."

Wow! that IS cool.

"... i want one)"

Well then you shall have one. It's as simple as that. :)

 
At 2/23/2012 3:45 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"I doubt it is true. They're toast
otherwise.
"

They are toast in any case, as soon as taxpayers no longer help people buy them.

If I wanted something that drove like a pickup, I would buy...

...Oh! I already DID buy a pickup. Well, I guess that's that, then.

 
At 2/23/2012 4:20 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

"I doubt it is true. They're toast otherwise."

this seems like a very credulous viewpoint.

look at the volt. it has some serious flaws hidden until after people bought them.

the tesla guys have a very poor track record on honesty.

look at their mileage/range claims.

even under careful driving, they were overstated by about 50%.

drive it like a sports car, and well, you get the "top gear" experience of 55 miles.

note that tesla's attempted libel suit over this was thrown out.

they are not a terribly trustworthy bunch from what i have seen so far.

and anyone who can take a lotus chassis and make it handle like a truck ought to be tarred and feathered anyhow.

 
At 2/24/2012 2:24 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

tesla admitting the problem with the roadster, but claims the S is much harder to brick.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-57384571-54/tesla-you-cant-brick-model-s-batteries/

so, sorry lar, but this story is true.

 
At 2/24/2012 3:41 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

@Morg - it's true, I believe it but if Telsa does not make those with brick batteries whole - then others are not going to trust them and shouldn't.

 
At 2/24/2012 5:50 PM, Blogger morganovich said...

nor should they.

the tesla guys are alchemists that transform government largess into bad cars using lies.

when funding dries up, they will rapidly go BK.

good luck getting parts, service, or anyone to honor your warranty then.

also:

they are NOT replacing bricked batteries. it's outside the warranty and all on the owner.

if they had any integrity at all, they'd do a recall and fix the problem.

 

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