As of this writing, BMW’s largest production facility, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, has been idled for one full month. The manufacturing site halted production back on April 3 in response to the novel human coronavirus outbreak, and has been quiet ever since, with planned restart dates pushed from an initial time line of April 20, then to April 30, and now to May 4.
May 4 also marks the opening of various other BMW production sites, including many key factories in Germany. The Welt will be reopening on May 4 as well, which means receiving your European Delivery BMW will soon be possible once again. Naturally though, all operations will be conducted in accordance with newly enacted guidelines and safety measures set forth to continue mitigating the spread of the new virus.
According to press releases and statements made by administrators, not every facility is set to open on May 4. BMW Group Classic is set to remain closed to the public, along with areas of BMW’s physical headquarters in Munich. BMW Group Plant Rosslyn, the marque’s oldest outside of Europe, is to remain closed for at least a few more weeks, with a planned restart date of May 18 circulating in the news, with the same time frame applying to the MINI plant in Oxford, England. BMW Group Plant Dingolfing, pictured below, won’t be commencing production any sooner than May 11.
The Rolls-Royce factory in Goodwood, England will also be reopening on May 4, and it should be noted that BMW engine production facilities were scheduled to get started a week earlier on April 27 in order to build up a supply pipeline, but it’s unclear if this actually happened or not.
Although society in western countries is just now starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel in relation to the coronavirus, the full effects of the damage, and just how widespread the fallout will be have yet to materialize. Supply chain disruption, delays in shipping, cancellation of products, events, and gatherings, and other immediate setbacks are just the start, and it’s difficult to predict what’s to come. The only time factories have ever been idled in such volume for so long has been during wartime or periods of severe economic decline, both of which have effectively materialized in the global reaction to coronavirus, which as translated to simultaneous demand and supply shocks hitting the world economy.
Although people are starting to get back to work, building cars for BMW and other automakers, and attempting to resume life as normal, operations at BMW’s plants are starting off in stages, with limited shifts to allow for spacing of employees and regular cleaning and disinfection of workstations. Although BMW’s factories in China resumed operations back in February, full production output has yet to be achieved. The same thing is expected to play out with the rest of the auto industry around the world, as although there are now workers returning to build cars, whether or not people will show up to buy them in numbers anything like before the pandemic remains to be seen.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]