BMW Drives Germany

Its flexible manufacturing system is a mark of a country that's getting less rigid and more competitive

Henrik Spohler / Laif / Redux

Cars on the assembly line of the BMW 3 series at the BMW auto factory in Leipzig, Germany.

Cloth seats or leather? Sunroof or spoiler? Walk into any auto dealership to buy a new car, and you'll be offered a multitude of options. If it's a BMW you're buying, however, there's a twist: you can walk out of the showroom and change your mind later. Perhaps you'd really prefer the poplar interior trim to the brushed aluminum. Or maybe those retractable headlight washers would be useful after all. Your BMW dealer will be happy to oblige with as many changes as you care to make, until a cutoff point: six days before your particular car goes into production.

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