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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Leipzig - Three Hour Tour of the BMW Factory

They would not let me photograph in the factory. I took
this shot from the foyer - a BMW i8 - and cars going overhead
 from one building to the next
BMW i8 costs $136000. It goes 160 MPH.
0 to 60 in 4 seconds. 
This BMW i3 was plugged in right in front
of the main entrance.
This morning when I woke up and looked at the map - I noticed the BMW plant was just 3 miles away. Surely I could get over there and have a tour and get out in an hour or two. I got a cab - and it cost me 17 euros to go 3 miles! I got there at 11 AM. The lady said - tours are by appointment only. I showed her my Florida license and a picture of me and our BMW. She must have felt sorry for me - she said there is a 2 PM English school tour. So I sat down and waited 3 hours for the tour.

At 2 PM - the tour would start with them confiscating our cameras - phones - and coats. I was going to be blind inside. The tour was free - and it took 3 hours. It was cold - wet - dark - and rainy outside - I stuck around.

BMW makes lots of different cars. But this is the only place where they make the i8 and i3 - electric cars. I love electric cars - so I waited and enjoyed the tour.

I went on the tour with a group of 30 students from Croatia. They were about 20 years old. We did not talk much - I do not know why they wanted the tour in English - good for me that they did.

The plant cost $1.4 billion to build. It employs 4000 people. 97% of the production is done by robots. Everything is so spotless. They make 800 cars a day.

Lulu drives a red 2012 BMW 328i convertible. It is a well made car - a little stiff for my taste - and there is not a lot of room inside. Other than that - it is the ultimate driving machine.

The electric BMW's are very nice. But they are not pure electrics - they are hybrids. They have an electric motor and battery - but they also have a BMW 3 cylinder motorcycle engine to recharge the battery.

To make the electric cars lighter - they use carbon fiber coated with plastic to make the body parts and some frame parts. The carbon fibers are made in Washington State because of the cheap hydro power there. The electricity in Washington State is 1/8th the cost of electric in Germany. Even with the carbon fiber bodies - the BMW electrics are not light. The batteries are very heavy. The thing I do not like is the cost of the BMW electric. The i8 is $136000 - the i3 is $46000. When you think I bought a two year old Nissan Leaf for $12000 - and its range and speed are similar to these cars - I do not get it. The whole idea of an electric car is to save fuel - and control pollution a bit.

Still if someone handed me a BMW i3 - I would be tickled. Lulu loves the quality of her BMW. I just have  a hard time spending this kind of money on a car.

At 4 PM - the tour was over - I was tired from the wait and the tour. I went outside the plant and the sign said - bus in 30 minutes. Heck on that - I stuck my thumb out - the very first car picked me up.  The driver was a BMW worker who took me right home. We spoke to each other in broken whatever - we were both car enthusiasts. I told him I owned a BMW in Florida. He drove his VW Kombi pickup right to my hotel. What a nice guy.

Lulu was surprised to see me home so soon. She said she had a great presentation - and several others are taking her to the mayor's reception in town. They are excited about her study.

I am in for the night.

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