BMW North America is making up for the decades of U.S. retail sales when it was simply an importer and not an American manufacturer. The carmaker will spend $12 million on a plan to develop a closer relationship between its U.S. retailers and customers and its Spartanburg, S.C., factory in order to enhance brand identity.
BMW will turn a 134-acre tract adjacent to the 4-year-old plant into a combination driving center, dealer-training site and customer pickup facility.
The heart of the development will be a 1.7-mile test track. Dealers and their sales and technical staffs will travel to Spartanburg to participate in accident-avoidance driving programs, braking and skid demonstrations, slalom driving and product comparisons.
Customers also will be invited to use the track.
The company expects about 3,000 customers a year to drop by starting in 2000.
BMW's brand image speaks with a pronounced auto-racing accent. The company is currently bringing out a series of M cars to accentuate that identity with performance accessories and components and higher-end engines.