Lessons from Regensburg

Lessons from Regensburg

My visit to the BMW factory in Regensburg Germany confirmed that the factory of the future had arrived. See, Manufacturing a Car is Easy

There is no need for a government-mandated “50 state solution” for a National Zero Emissions Vehicle program as proposed by GM. 

BMW Series 3 with camouflage paint to obscure design. Photo from BMW

Robots and computers have created a highly flexible and automated factory that can produce a variety of cars in the same factory.

The recent proposal by government motors (GM) to mandate the manufacture of battery-powered vehicles (BEVs), claims that a government mandate would prevent car manufacturers from having to produce cars for different markets, i.e., those markets that require Zero Emission vehicles, e.g., California, and those that don’t. GM claims that building cars for different markets would be inefficient and impose added costs on them.

Quoting from the GM press release:

General Motors proposes the establishment of a National Zero Emissions Vehicle (NZEV) program to support a 50-state solution.” Emphassi added.

Thirty years ago, before the advent of computers and robots, this might have been a valid concern.

Today, as demonstrated by the Regensburg factory, cars can be built for multiple markets in the same factory, using the same production lines.

Meeting the requirements of multiple markets is not the problem it was thirty years ago. 

BEVs, i.e., zero emission vehicles, can be built using the same production lines as are used to build internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

Any visitor viewing the BMW Regensburg plant could see multiple varieties of BMWs being built on the same production line, one behind the other.

  • Cars with driving wheels on the right side for use in the UK were followed by cars with driving wheels on the left side of the vehicle for use in other countries.
  • Cars with black interiors were followed by cars with white interiors.
  • Over two dozen varieties of wheels are available on the BMW, with the wheels arriving on the assembly line just in time to match the vehicle ordered somewhere in the world by a customer.
  • The frame is matched to the chassis with the engine ordered by the customer.

In the future, the chassis could just as well be for a battery-powered, zero emission vehicle.

GM and the other automobile manufacturers can no longer claim they need a single “50 state” market.

They have the capability with the factory of the future to build both BEVs and ICEs in the same factory, for whatever type vehicle the customer ordered.

It’s possible the Germans are ahead of US manufacturers with the factory of the future.

If so, US manufacturers should get their act together and build their factories of the future rather than hiding behind the government’s petticoats and bureaucratic regulations.

GM and the other US manufacturers should focus on being competitive rather than trying to force Americans to buy a vehicle mandated by the government.

As demonstrated in Regensburg, the factory of the future does away with the excuse that manufacturers can’t meet the requirements of multiple markets.

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4 Replies to “Lessons from Regensburg”

  1. The degree and rate of penetration of electric vehicles into the US market depends not only on the vehicle, but also on the capacity (mileage) of the battery, ease and availability of recharging (including facilities at home, at work and on the road), and how price-competitive they are against internal combustion engines. Many people do not buy a new car simply because it is different.

  2. I suspect that the most important factor is how many people want to buy them. why should any ordinary person want to buy a car that is more expensive, and less range and takes longer to fill up?

    Sooner or later, the subsidies will have to be well down and then they will be even more expensive. I think these laws continue to be toys for rich people wanting to show off their green credentials. We will soon see.

    • Thanks.
      Yes, right now they are toys for the rich and famous.
      Depending on their value proposition after subsidies are gone, they will either be successful or will fail.