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BMW Australia reverts to German 3 Series

Last of the line: The last South African-built BMW 3 Series is rolled out ahead of a factory makeover in readiness for X3 production.

South African switch to X3 means BMW 3 Series to come from Munich

22 Feb 2018

BMW Group Australia will source all of its 3 Series sedans from Germany from now on, as the current supplier – BMW’s Rosslyn plant in South Africa – has dropped that model from its roster after 35 years.

The switch comes as the South African factory changes production to the new X3, although Australia will still get this mid-sized SUV from BMW’s American plant, in Spartanburg, South Carolina, along with the X5, X4 and X6.

Despite the BMW move, archrival Mercedes-Benz has confirmed it will continue to import its 3 Series competitor – the C-Class sedan – from South Africa into Australia, at least in its mainstream variants.

BMW has already made the production switch for the 3 Series for Australia, with cars built at the company’s home factory in Munich set to arrive in Australia for sale this month.

Until now, all 3 Series sedans have been made in South Africa for Australia except the plug-in hybrid 330e and hot-shot M3, which came from Munich.

It was a credit to the South African factory that many BMW 3 Series buyers were not even aware their cars were made in South Africa that turned out one in four of all 3 Series cars in the current generation.

The factory was awarded JD Power’s Platinum Plant Quality Award in the 2015 Initial Quality Study.

Apart from Germany, Mexico’s BMW factory will also produce 3 Series, mainly for the North American market.

Ahead of X3 production in a few months, the 43-year-old South African factory is getting a makeover to not only modernise the production line but also increase capacity to 76,000 units a year.

The switch to X3 production at Rosslyn is designed to take pressure off the Spartanburg plant that has been flat out meeting global orders for BMW’s SUVs as consumers switch to the big all-wheel-drive wagons.

By contrast, sales of conventional sedans have been falling. In Australia, sales of the 3 Series sedan and wagon fell 35 per cent, to 2584 vehicles last year.

Once BMW’s top-seller in Australia, the 3 Series was ranked behind three SUVs – the X3 (3671 units), X1 3658) and X5 (3582) in 2017.

Last year, 10,127 South African-built vehicles were sold in Australia.

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