Bristow, Virginia, United States
It has been 20 years since BMW broke ground on its Spartanburg, SC manufacturing facility, and while the automaker doesn't have any plans to mark the moment, economists and industry analysts have taken a closer look at the facility's impact on South Carolina, the South and global manufacturing. As of November, the Spartanburg plant's 7,000 employees cranked out 25,000 vehicles per month, and BMW has poured some $6 billion into the state since the plant opened in 1993. While that figure nearly matches the state's proposed budget for next year, some say there have been drawbacks.
To begin with, South Carolina provided BMW with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of public money and tax breaks with little public oversight, setting a precedent that would repeat itself with other corporations. The Detroit News reports that a Pew Center evaluation found 26 states didn't have a sufficient system for evaluating tax incentive performance. But BMW opened the door for a Southern manufacturing renaissance, with automakers from Mercedes-Benz to Hyundai and Volkswagen opening plants in the Deep South.
While states have raced to offer ever sweeter tax and cash incentives for big manufacturers, officials say BMW is proof the system can pay dividends. You can read the full piece here.
BMW just can't stand the thought of the world record for the longest drift winding up in the hands of someone else. The German automaker is set to take a crack at setting a new record by blowing the old one straight out of the water. A driver in China holds the current title after kicking a car sideways for a full 3.6 miles. Now, on May 11, BMW Performance Driving Instructor Johan Schwartz will attempt to pitch a BMW M5 sideways for some 40 miles as part of a stunt to raise funds for the BMW Pro-Am Charity.
We've had the distinct pleasure of riding with the instructors at the BMW facility in South Carolina, and we can tell you that if anyone can keep an M5 at full tilt for 40 miles, it's these guys. BMW has released a teaser video to drum up attention for the stunt. You can catch it below.
BMW sure seems to take pleasure in confusing the hell out of us. It used to be pretty simple: if you wanted a compact Bimmer, you had to look no further than the 3 Series. Then it was just a matter of which bodystyle you wanted. But the smaller end of BMW's lineup has gotten more complicated lately. Never mind the 1 Series and 2 Series (in their various iterations) that have slotted in below it - now the 3 Series has been split in two: Want a four-door, get the new 3 Series. Want a two-door, the 4 Series is your address. Right?
Almost. Because now there's a 4 Series Gran Coupe that keeps the two-door's roofline (or some approximation of it) but adds an extra set of doors in the back, thereby bridging the gap between the 3 Series sedan and 4 Series coupe. And it's just made its public debut here at the Geneva Motor Show.
The difference between this and the two-door 4 Series is plain to see: it's got two extra doors. But what's the difference between this and the 3 Series sedan? About two or three grand, to start with - depending on which version (428i Gran Coupe or 435i Gran Coupe) you choose. But it's also sleeker, more muscular and altogether that extra bit sexier. Which is a good trait, as you can see from our gallery of live shots above, to have in your European sports sedan, coupe, or whatever you want to call it.