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Old 08-29-2008, 01:42 PM
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Last Z4 from Spartanburg plant rolls out

The last Z4 roadster assembled in the Upstate rolled off the line Thursday, just in time to be the centerpiece of the last Z Homecoming that will be held this weekend at BMW Manufacturing Co.’s complex in Greer.

The plant built more than 9,300 Z4 roadsters and variants this year, and the last roadster completes the build-out of the 2008 model and marks the end of the current life cycle of the vehicle, said Bobby Hitt, BMW Manufacturing spokesman.

BMW vehicles tend to have a life cycle of about seven years, and the plant has built nearly 200,000 Z4s, he said.

Production will leave Greer and go to Germany.
The final car will be shown off this weekend, Hitt said, at the Z Homecoming.
“This is our finale,” he said.

Production of the Z4 began in late 1995, with the car showing up in dealerships in 1996.
“It’s been a great car for the plant,” Hitt said. But “in the life of a plant, new models are what drives the energy.”
Although the Z4 “put us on the map, it doesn’t define us,” Hitt said, adding the plant is defined by what it is currently building.
The ending is a little bittersweet, he said, but the excitement about new models and expansion energizes the workers.

“We start making the diesel before the end of the year,” he said. BMW plans to introduce a diesel X5 sports activity vehicle into the U.S. market soon. Production of a hybrid based on the X6 sports activity coupe will begin next year. And in the next year or so, production of the BMW X3, the smaller sibling of the X5, will move to Greer.

“It’s exciting to build cars with a strong order bank, that people want,” he said. Sales of the X5 have helped support BMW growth both in the United States and abroad. The X6, which was launched earlier this year, has orders for all the vehicles to be built this year.

Z4 owners in the Upstate for the final Z Homecoming also will see construction under way for the $750 million expansion at the plant. BMW is adding a new 1.2 million-square-foot assembly facility and expanding its paint shop.
“Steel is going up on the assembly building,” Hitt said. The steel on the paint shop is up and workers are cladding the framework. He said the construction is on schedule although the last couple of rains slowed progress.
More than 600 car owners — owners of both Z3 and Z4 as well as M versions of coupes and roadsters registered for the 12th Z Homecoming, making it the largest one ever.

“This Homecoming will be a sendoff, of sorts,” said Kenn Sparks, Homecoming coordinator, in a letter to the participants. “So we’ve chosen Bon Voyage as our theme for this year.”

Although participants began arriving Thursday, most will come in today — many driving in convoys across the mountains or down the coast. Friday events will include plant tours, skills courses at the BMW Performance Center across from the plant, a vendor fair in the Zentrum parking lot, lunch in the BMW cafeteria and a BMW dinner and reception at Embassy Suites.
The public is invited to see the cars massed at the Zentrum on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., when a panoramic picture of all the cars and participants will be made. The Zs begin lining up at 7 a.m.
The event will end Sunday with a drive and brunch.
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