According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, BMW Group Plant Spartanburg has defended its title as the largest auto exporter in the U.S. in terms of value for the eighth year running. During 2021, of the 433,810 BMW vehicles produced in Spartanburg (a new record for the plant), 257,876 units, valued at more than $10,100,000,000, were exported to approximately 120 different countries. The BMWs exported from Spartanburg are primarily shipped through the Port of Charleston, which saw nearly 219,000 units pass through its gates last year, along with five other ports located in the south in cities such as Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia, along with Jacksonville, Everglades, and Miami, Florida. BMWs produced in Spartanburg are also sent to Canada via rail.
“Free trade and open markets are essential for global businesses and economies to grow. It is the reason BMW and South Carolina have been successful,” explained Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for production. “Plant Spartanburg contributes greatly to the success of the BMW Group. They are the center of competence for our X family of vehicles. They have world-class people who build world-class products. I congratulate our 11,000 associates for this achievement, and I thank our partners throughout South Carolina for their outstanding support.”
The primary export market for BMWs produced in Spartanburg is China, with 24.1% of export volume destined for the country, the world’s largest automotive market. Next in line was Germany, with a 12.3% share, followed by South Korea at 9.4%, Canada with 5.6%, and Great Britain, with 5.4%. Of the 433,810 BMWs produced in the plant during 2021, 257,876, or 59%, were exported, while 176,840, or 41%, were sold in the U.S. That latter figure accounted for 53.4% of BMW brand sales in the U.S., and Spartanburg produces the two most popular models sold here, the X3 and X5.
“Claiming the top spot for U.S. automobile exports by value rounds out a very successful year for Plant Spartanburg. I’m incredibly proud of our associates and the resilience they have shown the past year,” said Dr. Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “This achievement demonstrates BMW’s trusted partnership with this state and its continued commitment to the United States.”
Later this year, production of the BMW XM, described as the first electrified high-performance model in the BMW M portfolio, is set to commence at the plant, which builds the BMW X vehicle lineup from the X3 through the X7 and Alpina XB7. Late last year, ground was broken on a new logistics center for the plant, which is set to cost $100,000,000 and add approximately 1,000,000 square-feet of floor space to the campus when it is completed later in 2022. Construction is also continuing on a nearby training center, with 67,000 square-feet of floor space and a projected cost of $20,000,000. The training center is slated to open during the fall, is planned to replace the BMW Training and Development Center (TDC), will be located across from the existing Campus Training Center (CTC), and will also be the new home of BMW’s apprenticeship program, BMW Scholars.
“Nearly 29 years ago, BMW decided to invest in South Carolina, and that investment – and the many investments that followed – have paid enormous dividends for BMW and the people of our state,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “BMW has shown the world that the combination of South Carolina’s world-class ports, dedicated workforce, and pro-business climate leads to unmatched performance. The importance of our partnership and the impact they have had on South Carolina cannot be understated.”
Since its creation in 1992, BMW has invested almost $12,000,000,000 into BMW Group Plant Spartanburg, a process which has resulted in it becoming the automaker’s largest factory in the world. The plant has maximum daily output of 1,500 vehicles and annual capacity of 450,000, and employs a staff of more than 11,000 individuals. The plant has been the most valuable auto exporter in the U.S. for eight consecutive years, with export value growing in 2017, 2018, 2019, and even 2020. During 2020, the staff of the plant celebrated production of 5,000,000 BMWs.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]