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Inside BMW’s Munich Skunkworks

Posted in BMW, Car Tech, Design by Kurt Ernst | March 29th, 2011 | 3 Responses |

Every automaker has their skunkworks, where newly designed vehicles make the transition from CAD drawings and clay models into prototypes and test mules. BMW is no exception, and it comes as no surprise that their “Plant Zero” is deep within BMW’s sprawling Munich headquarters. What is surprising is how BMW takes models from the computer to the street, by milling complex models from billet aluminum. It’s also interesting to see how production robots are programmed; I never stopped to think about it, but I guess the thousands of spot welds in a new vehicle were once done by hand, at least in BMW’s Plant Zero. Video below.

I’m not sure how current the video is (even though BMW only posted it a few days back), since BMW has been using the black and white vinyl camouflage for over a year now. I never realized that they inserted foam shapes beneath the vinyl, but that makes sense if you want to disguise the lines and curves of a pre-production vehicle. Aerodynamics aside, I’d much rather shake down a test mule with vinyl wrap than one with thin plastic panels screwed into the sheetmetal.

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3 Responses

  1. der Mechaniker says:

    …so proud !

  2. Adam says:

    I live in Summit County Colorado which is around 9000 ft above sea level and i see cars with this plastic wrapping all the time at a local hotel. They test the cars at high altitude and adverse daily driving conditions. Im not sure what manufacturer they are but i have a feeling there Chevy’s or Fords. I’ve seen lines of them (4-5) parked out front of the hotel. I’d be glad to take a picture and send it to RideLust when i see them again.

    • Kurt Ernst says:

      Adam, please do. We can’t pay for submitted photos, but you’d get your pics (and name) seen by a lot of people around the world.