Last year, BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina set a new manufacturing record. Production output volume totaled 411,620 units, more BMW X cars than ever before. This was just the third time in the plant’s history that more than 400,000 vehicles left its doors in a single year, the vast majority of which were destined for overseas markets. Although the U.S. has a voracious appetite for SUVs from the X3 through the X7, BMW is having no trouble selling them in their other major markets, and of the 411,620 cars produced in South Carolina, 246,014, or a hair less than 60%, were exported.
The value of these 246,014 BMW Group vehicles totals approximately $9,600,000,000, and according to the U.S. Department of Commerce, that’s enough to make BMW the number one automotive exporter in the U.S. by value. In addition to Plant Spartanburg having produced more than 400,000 vehicles a few times before, this isn’t the first time BMW Manufacturing has earned the spot of largest U.S. automotive exporter by value, either. It’s actually the sixth year in a row, and you can read the BimmerLife reports from 2018 and 2019 on the site.
BMW’s North American manufacturing efforts are concentrated in the Spartanburg facility, and although a new factory opened in Mexico last year, Spartanburg remains the largest in the automakers global production network by a significant margin. Since operations commenced in 1994, the facility has produced a wide variety of different models, and the current lineup from X3 through X7 including everything in between is strongly diversified. Over that same period, the number of onsite staff has grown significantly, from 1,000 to over 10,000, and things are showing no signs of slowing down. Last summer, battery production was greatly increased ahead of the introduction of the X5 xDrive45e and X3 xDrive30e, while sales of BMW’s conventionally-motivated X3, X5, and X7 models were strong throughout 2019.
As the facility expands, so too does the ever-growing total of units produced from its inception. According to BMW, some time this year the plant will produce its 5,000,000th vehicle. A large portion of that comes from the X5, of which more than 2,200,000 have been built, but other models like the X3—BMW’s most popular in the U.S.—are surely catching up.
Although much of Spartanburg’s output is destined for export, the plant continues to pay dividends within the U.S. economy. As we’ve mentioned several times here, the multiplier effect of BMW Group Plant Spartanburg is exceptional, with more than 300 U.S. vendors responsible for supplying billions of dollars worth of parts and other resources ever year. According to a study conducted by the University of South Carolina, for every ten jobs created at the plant, an additional 90 employment opportunities are created elsewhere in the economy.
During 2019, Spartanburg welcomed the introduction seven newly launched BMW models, including the hybrid versions of the X3 and X5 mentioned above, along with the third generation X6, and the blisteringly powerful M variants of the X3, X4, X5, and X6. With most of those hitting the market this year, we wouldn’t be surprised if BMW Manufacturing in North America pulls it off once again for 2020.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]