After a production run of 35 years and 1 191 604 units over five generations, local manufacturing of the BMW 3-series officially ended at the German automaker’s Rosslyn Plant near Pretoria on February 21st, as attention now moves to assembling the X3 within the coming months.
Rosslyn, BMW’s first ever assembly plant outside Germany, has produced an impressive 1 191 604 BMW 3 Series sedans over five generations, starting with the second-generation version in 1983, known locally as the ‘Gusheshe’ or ‘Bhotsotso’.
A total of 98 003 were made at Rosslyn between 1983 and 1992, including two engine derivatives – the 333i and 325iS – made exclusively for the local market.
The third-generation 3 Series sedan – known at the plant as the ‘Dolphin’ – took over at Rosslyn in 1992; significantly bigger than its predecessor, it was available from launch as a four-door for the first time.
84 876 were made at Rosslyn before it gave way to the fourth-generation ‘G-String’ model in 1997, so named because of the shape of its steering wheel. Production lasted until 2004, with no fewer than 269 810 rolling off the line.
The fifth generation 3 series – affectionately known as the ‘Tweezer’ by South Africans – was made at Rosslyn from 2004 to 2011; production over its seven-year run totalled 356 257.
The current, sixth generation of the 3 Series sedan came out in 2012; it was the first with an eight-speed transmission, the first to offer a head-up display and 382 658 of them were made up to yesterday, out of a total of more than two million worldwide – almost one in four 3 Series sedans built worldwide came from Rosslyn.
In November 2015 BMW Group South Africa said it would be investing R6 billion at Rosslyn to install the new production line for the X3 and in October 2017 it threw in an extra R160 million to increase peak capacity from 71 000 cars a year to a record-setting 76 000.