After another scrumptious breakfast at Hotel Monaco, we checked out and took the U-Bahn (with a very easy change) to BMW Welt. It’s quite an astounding complex; I can’t imagine how many millions it cost to build! We had been told to be there an hour or more prior to our appointment, but we were even earlier than that due to the quick transportation. A very nice woman took us through some paperwork, going over the insurance for the next 2 weeks, etc. We chose to visit the BMW Museum briefly prior to our delivery, and then to take a factory tour afterward, so we received plastic cards with our schedule printed on them, which were also good for 10 euros in the shop, and 15 euros worth of food in one of the restaurants in the building. There was some time before the museum would be open, so we hit the shop & picked up an aluminum BMW water bottle, and our free engraved key ring.
The Museum was interesting, but we didn’t have much time to spend there. I had mainly wanted to see the current exhibit of various BMW art cars, which were indeed very cool.
And then we met our assigned representative at our assigned kiosk at 10:50 (these Germans crack me up). He led us to the presentation area, and as we descended the staircase, he clicked something on his mobile device which caused our car to begin turning on its dais, so of course we were supposed to stand there and admire it for a moment. Then a photographer appeared and took a picture of us with our car Then our rep showed us the various features, looked under the hood, discussed running & Belgium, etc.
We were allowed to drive the car down the ramp and out of the building, but there we handed it over to a valet, to be parked until our 2-hour factory tour was complete. The tour (all in English) was really fascinating, but nfortunately no photography was permitted inside. First there was a little movie about the history of BMW, then we all got headsets to be able to hear our guide, and we set off across the street to the factory where they produce the 3-series coupe & touring, and most of the engines for all of their lines. We saw the steel stamping area, where there were lots of dies for all the different parts (hoods, roofs, door sills, etc), which are stamped from domestic steel by huge (and very loud) machines. We saw several areas in the body fab shop, where robots were welding all the steel parts together, all the way through a completed body. I found it really interesting that the same line could make a touring or a coupe depending on the code attached to each frame as it came through the line (no cars are made for stock, so each vehicle is being produced as a custom item). At one point I was able to watch a computer screen as a frame was coming through the line; I could see how it looped through different instructions for the robots’ positions and weld points, based on which vehicle code was detected… really fascinating for a geek like me! Then we also saw the paint shop, where after the body is dusted off with ostrich plumes, the paint is applied electrostatically by robot arms; it was funny, with the robots all shrouded in a protective cover, their movements appeared very human-like – sometimes it was as if they were stepping back to survey their work. We couldn’t tour the assembly line, because that area of the plant was under construction for some new or expanded lines, but we did go through the engine assembly shop; in contrast to what we’d seen so far, most of that work is done by hand. Anyone can take the factory tours; it’s well worth it.
And that was it… after a quick sandwich lunch, we picked our car back up, and headed easily out of Munich (with the help of our GPS which we had brought with us) and on to the rest of our German adventure!