Despite what may be the longest closure in its history just a few months ago, and even with global auto demand suffering in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic amid broader economic concerns, BMW Group Plant Spartanburg produced its 5,000,000th BMW on June 4 2020. In case you’re wondering, it happens to be a 617-horsepower X5 M Competition finished in Toronto Red over a Silverstone full Merino leather interior.
First announced in 1992 and opened in 1994, BMW says this year marks the 25th anniversary of production at the Spartanburg facility, another important milestone. Currently, the plant focuses exclusively on the BMW X lineup, building everything from the X3 through the X7. The best selling models to originate from Spartanburg are the X3 and X5, and Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing, recently proclaimed that, “Every BMW X5 in the world comes from Plant Spartanburg. We are proud to call South Carolina home!”
Looking at the X5 alone, when the current fourth-generation G05 was unveiled in 2018, the plant had already produced over 2,200,000 of BMW’s groundbreaking SAV alone.
Over the past few years, we’ve been tracking the development of BMW’s increasing investment in Spartanburg. From its inception, it seems that BMW has never stopped upgrading and expanding the plant, and as one might expect, production volume seems to be increasing almost exponentially.
According to BMW, the 1,000,000th BMW produced in Spartanburg, a Z4 M Roadster, was built on February 28 2006, meaning it took over a decade for the first million BMWs to be built at the plant. It took less than six years for the production total to double, with the 2,000,000th BMW, an X3 xDrive35i, completed on January 12 2012. Things only continued to gather momentum after that, with the 3,000,000th BMW (an X5 M) produced on March 24 2015, just over 3 years later. The 4,000,000-unit milestone arrived on September 8 2017, in the form of an X3 M40i.
The period of time it has taken BMW to churn out a successive 1,000,000 cars at Spartanburg has continuously shrunk with time. That is, until this year. From March 24 2015 to September 8 2017, 1,000,000 units were produced in Spartanburg, a period of two years, five months, and fifteen days, meaning a well over 1,000 BMWs are created onsite on a given day, with maximum daily output of 1,500 according to BMW. It took Spartanburg another two years, eight months, and 27 days before the next 1,000,000 BMWs were built, or exactly 1,000 days, meaning 1,000 new BMWs are born each day in South Carolina. The slowdown between milestones seems expected, given the events of 2020, when the plant was idled for over a month in response. Nonetheless, the plant still managed to break its all-time annual production record last year, with a total of 411,620 vehicles built in 2019.
BMW Group Plant Spartanburg is the largest in the marque’s global decentralized production network, but 5,000,000 units is still a serious landmark. Like other milestone models, the 2020 X5 M Competition will be retained onsite and displayed at BMW Zentrum (the museum). Sitting next to the first vehicle built at the plant, an E36 318i sedan (on bottle cap wheels, no less), we can see just how far things come for BMW in the span of a quarter-century.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]