Traveling Through BMW Welt

A Visit to BMW Welt is well worth the journey, even if you don’t have a brand-new BMW to pick up. We accompanied an American military couple from Naples, Italy, as they picked up their brand-new BMW from BMW’s Car Delivery Centre, located within BMW Welt in Munich.

by Alison McCloud

BMW’s Car Delivery Centre is located within BMW Welt, and taking delivery of your new BMW there is just one part of the complete BMW Welt Experience.

Stepping out of the S-Bahn undergound station beside Munich’s Olympic Park, you are surrounded by: BMW. The original home plant, where more than 9,000 employees from more than 50 countries build (among other things) more than 800 per day of BMW’s award-winnning, best-selling 3 Series; BMW Corporate Headquarters; the BMW Museum; and, stunningly: the new BMW Welt.

BMW Welt opened Oct. 20, 2007, in an astounding high-tech building designed by star avantgarde architectural design firm COOP HIMMELB(L)AU. Building took seven years to complete and the result, with its striking “double cone” and cloud roof is stunning. The double cone is made of a huge number of glass triangles, each one different, so that putting them together must have been a gigantic jigsaw puzzle for the construction workers. This glass roof construction must have been very expensive to produce, but it produces the solar energy required to heat the building.

BMW Welt Facts and Figures
Floor space: 807,000 ft2
Glass facade: 161,500 ft2
Number of floors: 7
Number of rooms: 1,154
Number of elevators: 18 with 93 stops
850,000 visitors a year were predicted, about 45,000 of whom would actually pick up their new vehicles but the 1 millionth visitor had already checked in by March 13 2008, less than 5 months after BMW Welt opened. BMW Welt has proven extremely popular with local families who, even when they have no brand-new BMW to pick up, are happy to spend an entire day out being amazed by the funky 3-D technology, the new BMWs on display, the general buzz and excitement.

BMW Welt
In BMW Welt, there are exhibits explaining about BMW’s history and philosophy, its past and its future, technology and design, as well as temporary exhibits on changing themes. There are three restaurants plus a coffee bar; public areas that are used for concerts; plus multi-media shows.

A BMW Lifestyle and Original BMW Accessories Shop occupies 640 m2 on two levels: the larger ground floor level sells accessories such as BMW jackets, bags, bicycles, and bicycle racks, while the smaller gallery above is dedicated to  Formula 1 items. There is also a separate BMW Welt Shop, which contains a range of literature on BMW and the auto industry as well as books, postcards, calendars, T-shirts and more relating to the BMW Welt building.

Junior Campus
The Junior Campus has turned out to be popular and successful. It’s a special “encounter and event” area for young people between the ages of about 7 and 13 to learn about auto technology. There are three areas: a portal dedicated to explaining the meaning of mobility to people of all ages free of charge; as well as a Laboratory and a Workshop which offer in-depth workshops where young engineers can learn to work in a team to build a new car or learn about topics such as driving safety and innovation.

Factory tours
In pre-BMW Welt days, approximately 30,000 visitors per year took a guided tour of the BMW Munich Plant; with the new visitors’ tour through Production Mile that is offered in conjunction with a visit to BMW Welt, this number is expected to rise five-fold to 150,000. Customers picking up a new BMW at BMW Welt can include a plant tour as part of the pick-up process. Others can register on www.bmw-werk-muenchen.de or by calling the BMW Welt Information Service at +49 180 2118822.

Car Delivery Centre
But the heart of BMW Welt is the Car Delivery Centre, where 45,000 customers per year are expected to take delivery of their new BMWs, an average of about 180 vehicles each working day. These customers come from all over the world, although the majority come from Germany and neighboring countries.

Customer Managers give each customer individual attention, tailored to his or her particular interests and knowledge. The basic process takes about 40 minutes, but interested customers can extend their visit to a whole day, or even two days. They can visit the exhibits in BMW Welt, tour the BMW plant, and from the end of June, they will also be able to visit the newly renovated BMW Museum.

About three weeks before pick-up date, each customer receives a pick-up package, which includes information about getting to the Delivery Centre as well as a special bag for transporting the car’s license plates.

Each new vehicle is delivered to BMW Welt the day before the customer is due to pick it up so that it can be washed and thoroughly checked prior to being handed over. BMW Welt uses a special automated management system to track and coordinate each vehicle’s movements.

New customers are expected to arrive at the Delivery Centre at least 1-1/2 hours before the actual handover time. As soon as the owner arrives and registers at the check-in counter and hands over the license plates, the car is brought from a daytime waiting area in the basement. While the car is made ready, and the license plates affixed, the customer can take part in guided tours, visit one of the restaurants, children can visit the Junior Campus. Or those who prefer can simply relax in the premium lounge with refreshments and snacks, newspapers and magazines.

Multimedia briefing individually tailored to customers’ requirements
In the 290 square meter Product Info Centre a Customer Manager explains with the help of multi-media theme stations how the customer’s actual car functions. For those who want to know more, the display can explain in depth about the car’s technology, as well as providing additional information on safety, design, and performance. A 3-D online view explains with the help of a touchscreen exactly how the car works.

At another station equipped with a steering wheel, two paddles and BMW’s iDrive controller, the new owner can do a simulated test drive showing, for instance, how ABS and Dynamic Stability Control for driving on snow or sand work.

Taking delivery
Then, after an average of 45 minutes, it’s time to move to the Premiere Level, the very heart of the Car Delivery Centre, where the customer sees her or her new car for the very first time. Normally, only customers picking up cars have access to this area, making it a truly exclusive process.

A maximum of 30 cars at one time stand on 20 turntables and 10 panorama platforms. The day we visited we spotted almost the entire BMW range, from quite a number of the new, compact 1 Series, through BMW’s best-selling 3 Series, and on to the 5 Series, X3s, X5s.

There were a couple of extremely fancy black 5 Series Sedans, which had been especially kitted out for the London police. A photographer is there to record the special occasion, the Customer Manager explains final details in situ, any luggage is loaded into the trunk, each customer receives a key tag with a personalized engraving and a souvenir photo of the big event – and then it’s time to head down a spiral ramp toward the open road.

After picking up their 3 Series Coupe with powerful M3 engine (“the perfect combination of performance and comfort”) the American couple we accompanied planned to drive for an hour or so into the beautiful surrounding Bavarian countryside and spend a couple of days in Garmisch, before returning home to Naples in southern Italy.

BMW Welt is located at Am Olympiapark, 80809 Munich. Telephone info at +49 180 2118822 or see also www.bmw-welt.com.