Friday, November 29, 2013

30. BMW Motorrad and Globalization

Just off the press

A few days ago BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle branch of Bayerische Motorenwerke AG announced that they will built a new motorcycle manufacturing plant in Thailand. The reasons are twofold: 1. Demand here in Southeast Asia, especially the more wealthy Thailand for the larger, Enduro-type bikes from BMW has soared in recent years, despite their enormous price tags. The Thai government being ever more creative to seek additional income has just raised the tax on foreign manufactured motorcycles to, I believe, 100%, which turns my BMW R1200 GS ADV into an item in the range of a Mercedes Benz C-class Sedan, U.S. price. To counter this, BMW builds a plant here to circumnavigate the tax. It will be only the third motorcycle plant BMW owns, Berlin being the home manufacturing plant, one in Brasil (this country is a huge market with very strong growth as well), and now Thailand.

I also learned from Ian today, the British vintage motorcycle enthusiast from Chiang Saen, that the "new" Triumph company now produces all but one of their motorcycles in Thailand, in three manufacturing plants. These are going exclusively into export. The Triumph Bonneville, for example, somebody in Illinois or Indiana buys from the dealer in Terre Haute, was made here.

Globalization, of course, isn't a concern for the fabulous shoemaker in Chiang Saen. As promised he had my Kevlar/Carbon/leather German GENSLER gloves fitted with new leather palms, my Enduro boots have a thick, sturdy leather top now, and he fabricated two wonderful covers for my GPS, made of the best leather. These are a replacement for the plastic cover my friend Jeff made which was a little worn.

It goes without saying that my muddy, dirty boots -I didn't had the time to clean them before they were dropped off at the shoemaker's- also received a thorough cleaning and waterproofing treatment. In terms of service by small town craftsmen Thailand is amazing.

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