BMW officials here remain bullish about their plans, which have been in motion for years. Oliver Zipse, BMW's global production chief, said the automaker will consider additional investment as the market warrants.
"For us, it's very normal that we have trade restrictions," Zipse told Automotive News after a press event to announce the plant's official opening. "The answer is to go worldwide. We have locations in more than 32 countries to be close to the customer. In a restricted world, it's better to be inside the country than outside."
The San Luis Potosi plant was built with an annual production capacity of 175,000 vehicles to produce the BMW 3-series sedan. The majority of the roughly 20,000 sedans produced at the Mexico plant this year will be exported to the United States.
A trade tax would have hurt already declining sales of the 3 series in the U.S. The car sold 44,578 units last year, a drop of 25 percent.
But company executives at last week's opening stressed that Mexico would supply global demand for the vehicle, shipping to more than 40 countries starting next year.
The surprise U.S. tariffs were a recurring question from the more than 100 journalists who attended the opening from Europe, the U.S. and Latin America. Zipse and other BMW top executives addressed the issue patiently.
"It would be very speculative to change plans on some short-term announcement," Zipse said in response to a question about whether BMW will consider avoiding the tariff by instead importing 3-series sedans to the U.S. from Germany. "Currently, we will keep our plans and we will see how far that goes."
Having a geographically diverse footprint of production factories gives automakers a hedge from trade flareups among nations, he said.
"We want to strengthen our footprint in important and growing markets," Zipse said. "This strategy has turned out to be the right answer to volatile developments in markets and politics."