29 July 2007

BMW’s car dealership cathedral

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BMW Welt
The New York Times reports that BMW is opening a lavish, cathedral-like showroom in Munich to showcase its history and to deliver vehicles, bathed in a spotlight and rotating on a turntable, to their new owners.

“Strolling through BMW Welt, with its cyclone-shaped entrance and billowing, cloudlike facade, it is easy to forget why the carmaker built this more than $250 million palace: to hand over cars to customers.

Starting in October, about 170 vehicles a day will be delivered to the cathedral-like showroom at BMW Welt (BMW World, in English). Rather than picking up a new car at a local dealership, drivers who pay a little extra for the privilege come here to receive delivery of their vehicles, finding them bathed in a spotlight and rotating on a turntable.”

The article highlights how other German carmakers are also erecting “a string of lavish, architecturally distinct temples to showcase their wares” – such as the Mercedes-Benz Museum, the brand new Porsche Museum and Volkswagen’s Autostadt, one of Germany’s top tourist attractions. The author argues that the current building boom “reflects the increasingly intense competition among the world’s leading luxury carmakers — as well as the threat posed by younger Asian auto brands that are gaining on them” and that “nowadays, that competition turns as much on heritage and image as on horsepower and handling.”.

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