SAN LUIS POTOSI, Mexico — BMW’s new plant here, slated to begin producing the next-generation 3-series sedan in 2019, will be capable of building any of the automaker’s rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
BMW last week said it will build a second vehicle here, but did not give details. Oliver Zipse, BMW board member for production, said at a press event that its new flexible Cluster Architecture will allow assembly of any rwd car or crossover at San Luis Potosi.
He said that BMW will use suppliers and parts mainly from North America when it begins to produce the 3-series sedan here.
BMW plans to build as many as 150,000 cars annually — the 3 series as well as another vehicle — at the plant, where the automaker plans to invest $1 billion. The San Luis Potosi plant will be BMW’s second in North America, along with the one in Spartanburg, S.C.
The 3 series, one of the top-selling luxury cars in the U.S., will be redesigned in 2018. BMW builds the 3-series sold in the U.S. now in Germany and South Africa, but South African output will cease when the Mexican plant comes online.
BMW joins other European manufacturers in building factories in Mexico to take advantage of low-cost labor, a growing supplier network and free-trade pacts. An estimated 70 percent of the vehicles to be produced at the Mexico plant will be sold in North America, BMW officials say.
The company, according to media reports in Mexico, received $236 million in local aid in return for a commitment to create 1,500 jobs and invest $1 billion by 2024.