Mercedes has been offering factory delivery of its cars since the fifties, and today more than 80,000 folks are handed their new Mercedes fobs right at the plant. One of the top tourist attractions in Germany is VW's Autostadt, which gets more than a million visitors per year. Now BMW has joined the factory delivery crowd with its BMW Welt, built next to the BMW campus at a cost in excess of $275 million.

Looking like a breakaway chunk from the Guggenheim in Bilbao, it contains a gallery showcasing the roundel's complete line, a conference center, a kiddie center, and exhibits. BMW expects 800,000 visitors per year. Of those, 45,000 of them will be coming to collect their new ultimate driving machine. After a tour of the BMW factory, in a separate building, new owners will collect their cars, which will be waiting for them on a revolving turntable... atop a plinth... bathed in the spotlight. Indeed, it will be a dramatic way to collect your 1-Series.

The creation of such a building was inspired by marketing. With relative tadpoles in the auto business muscling their way into the top tier, one of the last battlegrounds for distinction is age. With the BMW Welt, the company that was winning races before Toyota had made its first car wants to show that old girls still have a lot of fight left in them. Porsche is expected to join the party next year with its own specially designed factory delivery monument.

[Source: New York Times]