For the seventh consecutive year, BMW Manufacturing was the top U.S. auto exporter in terms of value. During 2020, even with a five-week production pause from the end of March to the beginning of May, BMW Group Plant Spartanburg in South Carolina produced 361,365 vehicles, 218,820 of which were exported, at a value of more than $8,900,000,000. Spartanburg’s 2020 production output was down from 2019’s total of 411,620 units, but comes in higher than the 356,749 units manufactured in 2018.
The 218,820 vehicles exported from Spartanburg account for 61% of the facility’s production total, and although the 2020 figure falls short of previous years, the portion of vehicles sent to other countries is holding steady at just shy of two thirds of output. The primary port through which BMW’s produced in South Carolina are exported is the Port of Charleston, where more than 189,000 BMWs passed through in 2020. In all, BMW vehicles exported through the Port of Charleston were sent to more than 125 countries, and accounted for 70% of BMW’s export volume.
BMWs produced in the U.S. are also exported through five other ports, including Savannah and Brunswick, Georgia, and Jacksonville, Miami, and Everglades, Florida. Rail was also used to export more than 13,000 BMWs. The top five national export markets for BMW’s produced in the U.S. were China, with 23.3% of volume, followed by Germany at 12.9%, South Korea at 7.8%, Canada at 6%, and Russia at 5.3%.
Despite operations being halted for five weeks during the Spring, the Spartanburg factory set a six-month production record for the second half of the year, producing nearly 218,000 vehicles. The facility specializes in manufacturing BMW’s line of X SAVs and SACs, a production range which includes BMW’s most popular current models, the X3 and X5. During 2019, the factory was expanded and upgraded to produce batteries for the electrified X3 xDrive30e and X5 xDrive45e, and in 2020, 22,964 and 24,248 units of the respective hybrids were produced. Together, those 47,212 vehicles accounted for 13% plant output during 2020. All told, the facility currently builds five top-selling BMW X models, four Motorsport X models (like the X3 M and X5 M), and the two aforementioned plug-in hybrid electric SAVs.
BMW Group Plant Spartanburg staffs a workforce of 11,000 and is currently producing about 1,500 vehicles each day. The plant, which happens to be BMW’s largest, has annual production capacity of up to 450,000 units.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]