BMW celebrates half century of carmaking in South Africa with the release of new emblem

The new Ndelebe art-inspired marketing BMW South Africa emblem and a new X3 being checked as it rolls of the Plant Rosslyn production line on March 28.

Photo by Creamer Media's Donna Slater

Newly-produced BMW X3’s stand in an inspection booth at Plant Rosslyn

Photo by Creamer Media's Donna Slater

14th April 2023

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer


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BMW South Africa is celebrating 50 years of manufacturing cars in South Africa with the launch of a newly designed marketing emblem that is inspired by a work of art crafted by South African traditional Ndebele artist Dr Esther Mahlangu, and a refocusing of attention on improving the local operations’ sustainability performance in line with targets set by BMW Group.

The new logo will be used in all communication of BMW Group South Africa’s fiftieth- anniversary celebrations throughout this year.

BMW South Africa’s Rosslyn factory, in South Africa, started operations in March 1973 after the German vehicle manufacturer decided to branch out of Germany for the first time and invest in an existing multipurpose factory that, at the time, made BMW-badged vehicles and even Willy’s Jeeps.

BMW Group production board member and BMW South Africa chairperson Milan Nedeljković says that, as the first plant outside Germany, the emotional link to South Africa with its Rosslyn plant is “very strong”.

“It was our first step to internationalise BMW,” he states.

BMW South Africa CEO Peter van Binsbergen says the Rosslyn plant is an iconic production facility within the BMW Group, and BMW South Africa is a global success story for the business.

“Plant Rosslyn represents a cornerstone of the BMW Group’s global production network of more than 30 sites in 15 countries. We built BMW 3 Series here for more than 30 years – a period that included production of the iconic 333i and the cherished 325iS ‘Gusheshe’.

“BMW South Africa benefited from the successful adoption of a government- endorsed export programme from 1995 before transitioning to an ‘X’ plant in 2018.

BMW’s Rosslyn plant has over the years produced iconic cars unique to South Africa. Products such as the BMW 2000 SA, BMW 745i, BMW 530 MLE and BMW 333i, as well as the BMW 325iS, have laid the basis for the typical BMW brand to become genuinely South African.

The 4.4 km2 plant, comprising a 3.2 km2 factory and a 1.2 km2 distribution centre, has seen investments totalling R12.6-billion since 1995, and these have resulted in the local division winning the JD Power Gold Award for JD Power Initial Quality Study in 2002, and a total output of 1.6-million vehicles.

“More importantly, in 2015, we won [the JD Power Initial Quality Study] award again – [this time] the Platinum Award, [making BMW South Africa] the best [automotive] plant in the world,” says BMW South Africa painted body GM Danny Bester.

More recently, BMW spent R6-billion gearing up for production of its X3 model – setting aside production of the 3-series, which totalled more than 1.19-million units and spanned five generations – reaching over 300 000 X3s made in South Africa since.

The bulk of X3s made domestically are exported to more than 40 markets, including 14 African countries.

“Plant Rosslyn has over the past 50 years proven itself to be an essential member of our production network, consistently improving quality and productivity. The passion for the brand is clear, and the right teams with the right spirit are in place to direct its growth for the next 50 years,” says Nedeljković.

Since its establishment in South Africa, and in addition to the Rosslyn plant, BMW South Africa’s business currently includes a national sales company that sells and distributes BMW, MINI and BMW Motorrad, a financial services company established in 1990 and a software company (or information technology hub) servicing more than 50 countries.

Further, the local division invested in a training academy at Rosslyn plant in 1978 to equip craftspeople to work at the site, building on it with a R73-million investment in 2018.

Even in the predemocracy period, BMW South Africa accepted learners irrespective of their ethnicity.

In addition, BMW South Africa invested R109-million into a new retailer training centre it opened at its Midrand headquarters, to support its retailer partners.

Meanwhile, BMW South Africa is also increasingly focusing on bolstering sustainability and efficiency efforts, with key investments being made throughout the Rosslyn plant’s value chain, including a 2015 partnership with Bio2Watt to buy and wheel electricity generated from biomass at a plant in Bronkhorstspruit.

To date, about 30% of the Rosslyn plant’s energy demand is generated by this plant, with plans to expand this partnership to cater fully for the Rosslyn plant’s power requirements.

BMW South Africa has also managed to increase its energy efficiency by 30% in the past eight years, reduce water consumption by 38% and has had no waste going to landfill from June 2021.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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