M is for Munich

23 years after the last E30 M3 left the factory, BMW’s Munich plant is building an M car again. The new M4 is being assembled alongside the standard 4 Series Coupe, requiring sophisticated logistics to accommodate its special parts and lightweight const

October 16, 2014
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Hermann Bohrer, the director of the BMW plant in Munich, is a car manufacturing specialist with many years of experience. Building cars is his everyday job, but when the conversation turns to the new M4 Coupe, Bohrer turns out to be a real enthusiast.

“It’s a real drivers’s car,” he beams.

Bohrer’s passion for the M4 isn’t limited to the car itself. He’s also excited about F82 M4 production, which started at his Munich plant in May 2014 alongside the new 4 Series Coupe. The occasion marked the return of M car production to Munich for the first time since 1992, when the last of nearly 18,000 E30 M3s left the factory.

“There are still quite a number of employees with us who were involved in the production of the E30 M3, the first M generation, between 1986 and 1991,” Bohrer says. “They are very proud of the return of a legend.”

Subsequent generations of the M3—the E36, E46 and E9X—were built two hours up the autobahn in Regensburg, where the F80 M3 is now being built alongside the standard 3 Series. Manufacturing M models alongside the standard cars requires exceptionally efficient production processes and logistics, but it allows the plant to react quickly to market fluctuations by adjusting the production volume for each model. BMW has long done exactly that with cars that were fairly similar to one another, and the integration of a high-performance sports car into the manufacturing process “is a proof for the high flexibility of our production structures,” says Bohrer.

Last year, BMW invested almost €150 million in its production facilities, including the manufacturing infrastructure for the new M4 Coupe. It’s the first time that the Munich plant has built a car designed around a lightweight concept, and which incorporates an aluminum hood and side panels, a CFRP (carbon fiber reinforced plastic) roof and trunk lid. The bonding system for the carbon roof is also new to the plant.

The M4 uses 1,500 parts unique to the model, and the labor involved with its assembly is about 10% higher than for a regular 4 Series. It starts in the body shop, where workers fit the M4’s aluminum axle mounts, modified suspension mounts and additional stiffeners. In final assembly, the M4 gets its own sport suspension, steering wheel, seats and forged alloy wheels, plus the S55 turbocharged six-cylinder delivered from the BMW engine plant in Steyr, Austria.

Also from Issue 127

  • Big test: 2015 F80 M3 & F82 M4
  • Interview: Dr. Friedrich Nitschke
  • Buyer's Guide: 6-cyl 5 and 7 Series
  • Julian Bednorz' Rat Rod 2002
  • Tom Gruelich’s 2009 E89 Z4 35is
  • Murray Pfaff's R53 MINI Cooper S
  • 2015 F26 X4 35i first drive
  • 2 Series Active Tourer first drive
  • Ladies Only M School…and Spa
  • SE Sharkfest event report
  • BMWs at Monterey concours, auctions
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