BUILD NEW DOMINICAN
Harley & Honda quake in boots...
In a surprise U-Turn last week, The German auto manufacturer announced it was to start manufacturing a new variation of its C1 motorcycle with a roof, in Puerto Plata’s Free Zone.
BMW had previously indicated they would not consider opening up further manufacturing plants in the Caribbean after the failure of their Jamaican Mini plant in 2002.
The Kingston plant lost just short of US$242 million in BMW’s bid to bring the trendy Mini to the Jamaicans using local variations such as the ‘Mini Irie’, the ‘Mini Dibby-Dibby’ and the reggae-inspired ‘Mini Bob Marley’s mi Uncle’.
BMW have since concentrated on the European and North American markets where people have too much money.
The C1 motorcycle was an amazing success in Europe when it was launched in 2001. Buyers could not get enough of the wacky design which included a roof to stop bodies thrown from apartment building windows from hitting the rider’s head. It even had the added advantage of stopping some raindrops from hitting the rider as long as the bike was in a vertically straight position, i.e. not going round corners.
Our reporter contacted BMW to speak to the man behind the decision to start manufacturing in the Dominican Republic, but apparently he had fallen from an 15th storey apartment building window the week before, narrowly missing all 37 of the parked C1’s – and was unavailable for comment.
Instead we were able to meet up with Heinz Krumph-Lindenberg, the marketing guru from BMW’s HQ in Munich about the new manufacturing facility and their reasons for investing in the Dominican Republic. We met up with him in a trendy down-town cocktail bar in Puerto Plata.
“Mr Krumph-Lindenberg , may I call you Heinz?”
“Where I come from, Heinz meanz beanz.”
“Ah weelly? Zat could explain a few things.”
“Heinz, what can you tell us about the new products BMW intend to build and sell here in the Dominican Republic?”
“Ah, I am so glad you asked. Ve are proud to be launching our new moto-bike, ze C1B, or ‘Clit Bang’ as we call it, vich ve zink vill do wery vell in ze Dominican Republich. It has been specially designed to accommodate more people than ze average moto. It has an extra seat at ze back, which a small family viz livestock could sit on, and there are large handles sticking out each side which will allow extra people to hang on. The most innowative idea is the roof, which allows you to balance any items on ze top above ze rider. You could strap a wardrobe or two mattresses and a bottle of gas to the top, or maybe some extra seats for ze school kids. Zere are so many possibilities, I get ze goose-bumps just zinking about zem.”
“Well it certainly sounds interesting.”
“Yes, it iz. Let me introduce my colleague, Mr Britney Spearzen Von Trapp.”
“Hello Mr Von Trapp. Hopefully you aren’t going to speak in that strange fake German accent?”
“Guten Morgen mein amigo! Oops!...i did it again. “
“So, what can you tell us about this amazing new bike?”
“Of course, we realize that music is very important in your country.The Clit Bang will have four large speakers attached to the sides and two in the roof. Where we would normally put twin airbags, we‘ve managed to fit a 2000 watt amplifier. We don’t think it needs a graphic equaliser,we’ll just set all the channels to be as high as possible – sure, it makes the speakers rattle a bit, but we think everybody will love it.”
“We will be launching three separate editions of the Clit Bang, the Merengue, the Bachata and the Reggaeton which will have the lowered suspension, skirts around the wheels, go-faster stripes and an up-rated amplifier.”
“I noticed that the Clit Bang does not appear to have any indicators?”
“Yes, you are quite correct. In our extensive market research, we noticed that the Dominican drivers do not ever use the indicators, and on the odd occasion that they do, it is not to indicate which direction they are turning.”
“And what will be the entry level price of the Clit Bang when it goes on sale in the Dominican Republic?”
“Well, we did a lot of market research to see what the market will bear, and we see so many Hummers and the big Ford and GM trucks, so we think a good price will be around US$8000.”
“Doesn’t that seem a bit pricey, considering you can get a new moto for under US$1000?”
“No, I don’t think so. When I was in Sosua last week, the moto driver charged me 500 pesos from my hotel to Pedro Clisante - it only took 5 minutes. At that rate he must be making nearly US$35,000 each month – so I think the price is a bit too cheap, no?”
“We are proud to announce that with every new BMW we are giving away a CD of popular German music, with the title, ‘The Sound of Muzak’.”
“Among the very popular songs on the CD are:
‘The hills are alive with the sound of four liter 12 cylinder BMW engines.’
‘So Long, Farewell’. This is my favourite – it is what you say when you pass a broken down American car on the Autobahn.
‘Sixteen Going On Seventeen,’ is a celebration of the number of years we have been the best moto manufacturer in the world.
‘These are a Few of My Favorite Things,’ is a song about the BMW 323i, the 325i and the X5.
“Nice one Britney – I’m sure the CD will go down a storm with local buyers.”
“When we launch the new moto-bike, our advertising slogan will be, ‘Hello Moto!’”
“Er, isn’t that borrowed off someone else?”
“No, I don’t think so.”
“You see when our customers get into a BMW, they say, ‘Plop, plop, fizz, fiz, oh what a relief it is!’
And ‘Happiness is a car called BMW.’
It is ‘The ultimate driving machine.’
Or as we say in Germany, ‘Vorsprung durch technik.’”
“I’m sure I’ve heard that before.”
“Exactly, ‘Have it your way.’ ‘It's BMW time!’
‘Drivers wanted.’, ‘When you got it, flaunt it.’
The Clit Bang is ‘The antidote for civilization.’ And for moto-drivers everywhere it will be ‘The quicker picker-upper.’
Buy one, ‘Because you’re worth it.’
‘Think small.’ – ‘Just do it.’
With the new satellite navigation system, when you step into the Clit Bang, it will ask you in a Bill Gates voice, ‘Where do you want to go today?’ and then you can ‘Go to work on an egg.’
We tell all of our employees that ‘BMW is good for you’ and ‘refreshes the parts other autos cannot reach.’
“Well to be honest Britney, you lost me half an hour ago. Are there any advantages to operating a manufacturing facility in a Free Zone?”
“Ah yes. We can import all the bits to make the cars without paying any taxes. That way we can make more profits, which is good for our shareholders, no?”
“To qualify for that, don’t you have to ship the finished goods straight out of the country?”
“Ah well, I have heard that. But we have ways of making it vurk.”
“You mean ‘work’?”
“Yes, that is what I said, ‘Vurk’.”
“Heinz, can I ask you a personal question?”
“Yes, of course, fire away.”
“Why are you wearing that strange white suit with the cravat and panama hat?”
“Ah, I like to mix and fit in viz ze locals while I am here – it ‘elps me to welax more.”
“Do you guys really work for BMW, or are you making this up?”
“Ah, vell – zat is a good question vich I am glad you have asked. You see a lot of people talk about vurk, and how we can be socially responsible and make money at the same time. And I just say piffle, and then piffle again. Vurk is piffle, and all ze people zat do ze work, zey are pifflers. I prefer to zink of myself as a piffletaker, an honorary ambassador of the BMW brand to ze parts of ze world who don’t know that BMW actually stands for Best Moto Worldwide.”
At that point, the waiter came to the table with the bill, so I made a hasty exit.
Having heard from the horses’ mouth on the subject – he said he’d never heard of BMW - we thought we’d speak to the people on the streets.
We asked a Swedish guy in a bar what he thought of BMW’s plans for the Dominican Republic, but then we remembered we didn’t speak Swedish and we couldn’t understand what the bazookas he was talking about.
We caught up with Bill Grosby, a long-time Hells Angel who has recently retired in Cabarete and asked him if he’d swap his Harley for one of the new Clit Bangs.
“Look man, I hate Jap bikes – they have no soul, and they’re made of cheap plastic.”
“But this is a German bike.”
Same thing man - German, Jap – all foreign. If it don’t come from a factory in good ‘ole USA, then I ain’t buying it. When the Japs learn how to build proper bikes, I’ll be long gone.”
To conclude the article, we also emailed Toyota, Yamaha, Kawasaki, and a couple of unknown Chinese brands to see if they had any thoughts on the new BMW launch. They didn’t. Well at least we think they didn’t. They didn’t bother to reply…
unless their replies got caught in our spam trap.