Those overachievers in South Carolina have done it again. BMW Manufacturing, which operates BMW Plant Spartanburg in Greer, South Carolina, announced that in 2017, BMW repeated as the largest auto exporter by value in the United States. As confirmed by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the 272,346 BMW X vehicles built in the Spartanburg plant and sent overseas were worth $8,760,000,000.

Eighty-seven percent of the vehicles exported were shipped through the Port of Charleston. The rest went through Savannah, Georgia; Brunswick, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Miami, Florida; and Everglades, Florida. The total number of X vehicles exported from the U.S. comprised more than 79 percent of the plant’s total production volume of 371,284 vehicles.

“BMW X models manufactured in South Carolina continue to be a major contributor to the BMW Group’s success,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “Plant Spartanburg’s achievement as the country’s leading automotive exporter demonstrates BMW’s trusted partnership with this state, its contribution to the U.S. balance of trade, and its commitment to the United States.”

As massive as the number of exported BMWs is, it will probably get bigger, and so will some of the vehicles. Later this year BMW will introduce the range-topping BMW X7 Sports Activity Vehicle. What will become the largest of the X family will certainly contribute to the export number in 2019.

Over the next three years, BMW is investing an additional $600,000,000 in Plant Spartanburg to be able to handle the demand, if that’s possible. The activity will require adding another 1,000 jobs. The factory already employs about 10,000 workers.

“As the nation’s leader in the export sales of completed passenger vehicles, South Carolina accounts for more than 16 percent of the total U.S. market share,” said Bobby Hitt, South Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce. “This figure perfectly depicts the state’s unmatched global connectivity and status as a major player in the global automotive industry.”

“BMW is a leader in automotive manufacturing and driver of both import and export volume growth of the Port,” added Jim Newsome, president and CEO of South Carolina Ports Authority. “As customers of both Inland Port Greer and the Port of Charleston, BMW’s multiple expansions have been exciting opportunities for the Port, and we value our role in its international supply chain.”

A day’s worth of production at BMW Plant Spartanburg is about 1,400 vehicles including the BMW X3, X4, X5 and X6 Sports Activity Vehicle and Coupe variants. Total 2017 production at Spartanburg was 371,284 vehicles, which would have been even higher except for the interruption in X3 production as the second-generation gave way to the new G01 BMW X3. Multiple billion-dollar expansions have raised the factory’s total production capacity to 450,000 vehicles per year.—Scott Blazey

[Photo courtesy of BMW AG.]

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