Published on August 18th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
BMW Experience Center Opens In South Korea
BMW this month will open in South Korea its first facility in the world that combines a brand experience center with multiple test tracks. The 77 billion won (55 million euro) complex is a 10-minute drive from Incheon airport and 54km west of Seoul.
The center is designed to offer customers something they can’t get when battling through city traffic: the chance to experience BMW’s so-called “sheer driving pleasure” on a 2.6km-long acceleration and braking track and on a winding handling circuit. SUV owners also have the option of a 30-minute drive on an off-road course that is designed to test the capabilities of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system.
The purpose of the complex is to further strengthen BMW’s image in a market where it is the dominant premium brand leader. “We see more potential here and wish to grow even further,” BMW brand sales and marketing boss Ian Robertson said at the opening. He said the multipurpose Korean complex is part of BMW’s future retail strategy.
The German automaker has two other brand experience centers, the BMW Welt in Munich and a new complex opened last year in Shanghai’s former Olympic Games Park. With more than 1 million visitors a year, BMW Welt is the most visited attraction in Bavaria, where the competition includes world renown castles and palaces that are big tourist attractions. The company also has two driving centers, one in Maisac, near Munich, and the other is close to its U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
BMW wants the Korean complex to attract 200,000 visitors a year starting in 2016. Existing and potential customers and BMW’s eight exclusive dealers in Korea can book different services at the complex, from simple test drives to advanced driving programs, at prices ranging from the equivalent of 22 euros to 160 euros per person.
Although the primary intention is to promote the BMW and Mini brands, the company also hopes that the complex generates enough revenue to cover its operating costs, Robertson said. He said BMW is thinking about setting up another couple of complexes that combine the brand and driving experiences.