This week, BMW of North America opened its newest Vehicle Distribution Center (VDC) near Baltimore in Sparrows Point, Maryland. Announced less than a year ago, the new facility sits on 35 acres of land, and is part of the Tradepoint Atlantic Terminal, which was formerly a Bethlehem Steel mill that was the largest in the world at one point. In addition to annual processing capacity of 100,000 vehicles, the VDC also includes a 75,000-square-foot building, and will support 126 BMW and Mini dealers located on the East Coast and in the central region of the U.S.
“Vehicle distribution centers are a critically important part of our operations, helping to support our dealer network, and ultimately in getting vehicles into customers hands,” explained Claus Eberhart, vice president, aftersales, BMW of North America. “With the ability to process up to 100,000 vehicles annually, the BMW vehicle distribution center at Tradepoint Atlantic Terminal will help us meet growing demand for BMW and MINI vehicles in the region.”
The logistical advantages of the Tradepoint Atlantic Terminal site are numerous and include access to deep-water ship berths and close proximity to rail lines and major highways. The site is also home to logistics facilities for Amazon, FedEx, Under Armour, The Home Depot, and German automaker Volkswagen, among those for numerous other firms. The repurposing, revitalization, and clean-up of the land, which was once the site of a Bethlehem Steel mill that produced 116 ships between 1939 and 1946, is also described as aligning with BMW’s own sustainability efforts and ambitions.
Sustainability measures implemented on-site at BMW’s newest VDC include a water reclamation system in the facility’s car wash, aluminum, plastic, and cardboard recycling, the use of smart lighting throughout the 75,000-square-foot building, and a layout designed to promote efficiency, minimize bottlenecks, and reduce vehicle movement and emissions. In addition to serving as an import and distribution hub for BMW and Mini vehicles arriving by roll-on roll-off (RORO) vessels bound for the U.S. from Europe and Mexico, the VDC also has the capability to perform mechanical, paint, and body repairs, vehicle programming, and even carry out maintenance. The goings-on within a BMW VDC are typically private and closely monitored, but every so often, BMW CCA members from select chapters are afforded the opportunity to tour them, like the Los Angeles Chapter did in 2018.
BMW’s latest electric vehicles, the i4 and iX, along with the brand’s most powerful model yet, the M5 CS, were on display at the opening ceremony which was attended by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, and Maryland Port Administration/Port of Baltimore Executive Director William P. Doyle.
“With this new state-of-the-art facility, BMW is nearly doubling the size of its previous location, launching a major distribution hub to serve 126 BMW and MINI dealers with the capacity to process up to 100,000 vehicles,” said Governor Hogan. “The job creation and associated economic benefits are a game changer. But equally as important, this partnership allows the Port of Baltimore to continue leading the way in responding to the current supply chain crisis and cements our port’s vaunted status as the largest importer of automobiles in America for years to come.”
“Over the past seven and a half years, Tradepoint Atlantic has worked with the entire Port of Baltimore family to breathe new life into Sparrows Point, which was once the site of the world’s largest steel mill and is again contributing to the Port’s status as a huge economic engine linking our state with the global economy,” related Senator Van Hollen. “This new BMW distribution center will bring more jobs to Baltimore and contribute to our efforts to build greater economic opportunity in the region. Federal Team Maryland is a proud partner in the effort to ensure the success of this area, having helped secure over $500 million to boost jobs, capacity, and efficiency in and around the Port over the past five years.”
The opening of a VDC at the Tradepoint Atlantic Terminal is just one example of BMW’s ongoing commitment to the American market. Other examples include the construction of a $100,000,000, 1,000,000 square-foot logistics center at BMW Group Plant Spartanburg, the automaker’s largest factory, which set a production record of 433,810 BMWs in 2021, and the upcoming opening of a BMW M Driving Experience Center at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG, Tradepoint Atlantic.]