MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –
Source: BMW GroupDingolfing. Around 50 years ago, on November 9, 1970, the then Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. h.c. Alfons Goppel and the then Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Eberhard v. Kuenheim in Dingolfing the foundation stone for the BMW automobile plant 02.40. In doing so, they created the foundation for the rise of BMW AG from a medium-sized Bavarian vehicle manufacturer to a global high-tech group for individual premium mobility – and for the economic rise of an entire region. The plant in Dingolfing, in which BMW has invested well over 10 billion euros since then, functions as the engine for the development of Lower Bavaria into an industrial and innovation location. On the “green field” in Isarmoos, northwest of the Dingolfing town center, was created 1970 the first BMW automobile plant outside of Munich. After almost three years of construction, on September 27, 1973, the first BMW automobile from Dingolfing rolled off the assembly line – right into a time that was marked by many doubts and uncertainties in view of the first oil crisis. But the courageous entrepreneurial decision paid off, the rapid development of the plant gave Eberhard v. Kuenheim with its anti-cyclical behavior right. The BMW plant in Dingolfing quickly developed into a white and blue success story – with radiant effects across the whole of Lower Bavaria. The one millionth BMW made in Dingolfing was celebrated as early as 1982 – now over ten million more have followed. Dingolfing is still the Group’s largest European manufacturing location and is developing dynamically from a pure production plant to a high-tech location, with unique expertise future automotive technologies such as e-mobility, digitization and lightweight construction. More than half a billion euros will be invested in the electric drive production competence center located at the site alone by 2022; around 400 million euros will flow into the Dingolfing vehicle plant for the fully electric BMW iNEXT, which will start production next year. Plant manager Christoph Schröder confirms: “We want and will continue to be the engine for the development of the region and a strong pillar in the BMW Group’s global production network. To do this, we invested early in the transformation and key automotive technologies of tomorrow. Celebrating such a milestone as the 50th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone fills me with great respect for what has been achieved in the past. But it is also an incentive and an obligation for us for the future. ”On the occasion of the anniversary, the long-standing Chairman of the Board of Management and Supervisory Board of BMW AG and honorary citizen of the city of Dingolfing, Eberhard v. Kuenheim and the Dingolfing works council chairman and deputy chairman of the supervisory board of BMW AG Stefan Schmid on the development of the plant, entrepreneurial virtues and courage in times of change. Kuenheim, after BMW took over Hans Glas GmbH in 1967, exactly 50 years ago you laid the foundation stone for the Dingolfing vehicle plant 02.40 together with the then Prime Minister Alfons Goppel. In a time that – like today – was marked by uncertainty and change. Looking back, how do you rate this decision? Eberhard v. Kuenheim: I still remember it well. The general conditions were anything but favorable. Economic growth had slowed. The first oil crisis loomed on the horizon. The widespread opinion at the time was that BMW had not recognized the signs of the times, that the automobile was finished. Today we can state that the decision to build a new vehicle plant in Dingolfing created the basis for the considerable growth of BMW in the decades that followed. It has paid off to follow the path we have chosen – even against resistance. The more than eleven million vehicles that have been manufactured since then are good evidence of this. Was the decision to locate Dingolfing a “stroke of luck” for the region? Stefan Schmid: I think this question can be answered objectively with “Yes”. BMW and Lower Bavaria, that was always more than “just” automobile production. Our company has invested a tremendous amount in the region – well over 10 billion euros in Dingolfing alone. We have created over 20,000 well-paying jobs. The wages and salaries of our employees have a direct impact on purchasing power in the region. Not to forget the trade tax, which gives the municipalities some room for maneuver. In addition, many small and medium-sized supplier companies have followed our example and have also invested here in the region. Then there are the numerous service providers who make our daily operations possible in the first place – from the baker to the construction company to the bus company. In return, we benefit from an excellent infrastructure, good educational opportunities and highly qualified and motivated employees. A real “win-win situation” – as the Lower Bavarian says. Mr. v. Kuenheim, you are an honorary citizen of the city of Dingolfing. The development of this site will forever remain associated with your name. Is the work particularly important to you? Kuenheim: Well, I wouldn’t be honest if I denied this. After all, it is impressive to see what has been created here over the past five decades. A real success story, written by the thousands of people who have made Dingolfing a globally recognized figurehead for German automotive engineering. Around 85 percent of vehicles today go abroad. Even though I have to admit that I have a very close personal connection to our plant in Spartanburg, which we also launched in a phase of recession in the early 1990s. Today, both plants are not only the largest in the BMW production network. They have also become an engine of growth, prosperity and employment for their region, but occasionally the region is too dependent on BMW. When BMW coughs, Lower Bavaria has the flu, says the vernacular. Schmid: That may have been the case in the past. Today the world is different. Lower Bavaria is much more diverse and robust than this comparison assumes. Of course we are still a very large company here in the region – and we are aware of the responsibility that comes with that. In my opinion, the best way to do justice to this is to ensure that we are internationally competitive, remain at the forefront of technology and take people with us on the path of change. And we are well on the way here – perhaps not as boisterous as some other market participants, but quite self-confident on the basis of facts and substance. I’m thinking of the topic of electric drive production, digitization, which has long since found its way into our company, or the record number of trainees who started with us this year – against the general trend. So the success story continues? Schmid: It is up to us. There is no blank check for the future – not even for a location like Dingolfing. Today, when we harvest the fruits that were sown a long time ago, we must never forget to sow ourselves and to set the right course. That applies to us at BMW. But that also applies to all other decision-makers in the region. Future generations will ask us what contribution we have made to ensure good work and a society worth living in in the long term. The automotive industry is once again facing a change – driven by advancing digitization and decarbonization. Then there is the corona pandemic with its effects. Is long-term thinking and countercyclical action also a recipe for success in the current situation? Kuenheim: Every time has its own challenges. Far be it from me to give concrete advice to those who are responsible today. However, I firmly believe that true business success can only be seen in the long term. And that it pays not just to think from one reporting period to the next, but to stick to your line and make bold decisions. What is in three or six months is often not that relevant. But there is an inestimable value – and that is sustainability. This value is not on the balance sheet. It is also not visible at first glance in the annual financial statements. And yet future viability is the most valuable asset of companies and societies. What about the future viability of Dingolfing? Schmid: I think we have done our homework. Dingolfing is our lead plant for the luxury models. We are the competence center for electric drive production, the heart of global aftersales logistics, and we are increasingly changing from a production to a technology location. With the BMW iNEXT, which will be launched here next year, the company has entrusted us with its absolute innovator. That shows me: at BMW in Dingolfing, the much-cited transformation has long since begun. Much is already visible, tangible and tangible today. But none of that was a sure-fire success. We worked hard to achieve this and set the course early on. As a works council, you do not always receive immediate applause when you initiate changes. But we see ourselves here as a creative force and want to have a say in the future in which we will work. Individual mobility and the automobile in particular have recently become the subject of political and social discussions. Do you still see a business model for the future in this? Kuenheim: The mobility of people and goods is not the result, but the basis of our prosperity. In my opinion, this needs to be emphasized more in the public debate. Being mobile is a basic human need. Mobility means progress. It brings people a piece of freedom and individuality. Nevertheless, the way in which people can, want and are allowed to move around will change for the foreseeable future. Personally, I am convinced that the question of how individual mobility can be designed in a sustainable manner can be answered primarily through new thinking and technical innovations – not through bans. And the automobile will continue to play a central role in this. Schmid: We take the debate about climate protection very seriously. It is our aim to bring economic, ecological and social interests into harmony wherever we are. Sustainability, for example, has long been high on our agenda. It was under your aegis, Mr. von Kuenheim, when BMW installed an environmental officer in 1973 – as the very first automobile manufacturer. Also in the 1970s, the decision was made to expand our shuttle bus system here in Dingolfing in order to reduce individual traffic and preserve the established structure of our region. At the same time, the plant was connected to the long-distance natural gas network. Today we produce 50 percent of our energy ourselves – and buy the other 50 percent as green electricity. I could go on and on. On the other hand, industrial value creation will always be linked to the use of resources and a certain volume of traffic. Wherever there is production, goods are delivered, electricity is consumed, etc. That too is part of the truth. It is crucial that we succeed in decoupling growth and prosperity from resource consumption. For example, we have already significantly reduced the CO2 footprint of BMW Group production in recent years and we want to do this by a further 80 percent per vehicle produced by 2030. At the ceremony to mark your 90th birthday at the Dingolfing plant, you, Mr Kuenheim, announced that I will stop by when the BMW iNEXT starts up. May we welcome you back to Dingolfing next year? Kuenheim: When I make a promise, I do everything I can to keep it – as far as I can. In this respect, I am looking forward to my next visit to Dingolfing – if my health allows me. What would you like to give the employees in Dingolfing and the people in the region by then? Kuenheim: Stay focused on the future! In these times of uncertainty, don’t let fear guide you! Go on bravely and steadfastly on your way! Kuenheim, Mr. Schmid, thank you for this interview.
Captions: Photo 01: A construction board announces the construction of the BMW vehicle plant 02.40 in Dingolfing. Photo 02: The then Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Eberhard v. Kuenheim and the then Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Alfons Goppel laying the foundation stone for the BMW Dingolfing plant. Photo 03: On November 9, 50 years ago, BMW laid the groundwork in the presence of the Bavarian Prime Minister Dr. Alfons Goppel laid the foundation stone for the Dingolfing plant. Photo 04: Eberhard v. Kuenheim and Stefan Schmid at a works meeting at the BMW Group Plant Dingolfing in 2016. Photo 05: Eberhard v. Kuenheim, longstanding Chairman of the Board of Management and Supervisory Board of BMW AG. Picture 06: Stefan Schmid, Chairman of the Works Council of the BMW Group Plant Dingolfing and Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of BMW AG
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.