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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
May 24, 2024

Automobiles

BMW’s unveils new Korean R&D center

  • PUBLISHED :April 22, 2024 - 17:24
  • UPDATED :April 23, 2024 - 09:50
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(Yonhap)

BMW Group officially opened the doors to its expanded research and development center in Korea in Cheongna International City on Monday.

This transformed facility, originally launched in 2015 within the BMW Driving Center premise on the nearby island of Yeongjongdo, has now moved and evolved into a comprehensive, standalone R&D center dedicated to advancing BMW's innovations outside of Europe, alongside its centers in the US, China, Japan, and Brazil.

The BMW Group R&D Center Korea is designed to foster developmental and regulatory compliance testing, particularly for electric vehicles. The center features cutting-edge testing facilities, homologation labs, electric vehicle charger testing, and research labs.

A primary goal is to manage its own homologation processes -- an industry term for compliance certification -- within the next three to four years, which could expedite the launch of new products in the Korean market by ensuring they meet local regulations and safety standards.

“Korea is the fifth largest market for the BMW Group. The renovated R&D center in such a major market is primed to significantly boost the quality and customization of our products for the Korean market, drive forward new tech developments, and enhance our collaborations with local partners,” said Daniel Bottger, senior vice president of development total vehicle of BMW Group during the opening ceremony.

Employing a total of 50 staff members, the center not only supports vehicle homologation and product development for imports but also collaborates with local enterprises, academic institutions, and research centers to develop technologies like navigation systems, voice recognition, and user interface prototypes. It also works on tech tailored explicitly for the Korean market.

“This center plays a special role in adapting to local preferences. For example, while our global models typically use Amazon Alexa for voice commands, we’re exploring alternatives that resonate more with Korean users,” said Kim Min-yong, manager of BMW Group R&D Center Korea.

The center also hosts the BMW Startup Garage, an initiative designed to propel Korean automotive tech startups onto the global stage. This program distinguishes itself by providing financial support and purchasing prototypes to validate their commercial potential. This initiative extends its reach beyond Korea, with active operations in Germany, the United States, China, Israel, and Japan.

This R&D expansion in Korea follows a plan initially outlined by BMW Group executives during their 2019 visit to the country. To facilitate its growth in the region, BMW Group Korea signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Incheon and the Incheon Free Economic Zone in December 2021. This agreement paved the way for the construction of the new facility in the Incheon Hi-Tech Park in Cheongna. The construction, which began in April 2023, reached completion in March 2024, just 11 months after its inception.

Jochen Goller (center left), BMW Group Board of Management member for Customer, Brand, and Sales, and Yoo Jung-bok (center right), mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City, commemorate the opening of the new BMW Group R&D Center Korea on Monday in Cheongna International City, Incheon, joined by other senior executives and officials. (BMW Group)


By Moon Joon-hyun (mjh@heraldcorp.com)
The Korea Herald

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