BMW recently revealed its plans to invest $1 billion in its factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina, by the year 2016. The expansion will increase the plant’s capacity by an additional 100,000 units and will add the production of a fifth crossover, the X7.
The Spartanburg plant has begun production of the new X4 crossover, which is scheduled to go on sale in the United States in June, and the plant already produces the X3, X5, and X6. BMW is also planning to produce a hybrid version of its X5 crossover in Spartanburg although no release date has been announced. BMW’s latest investment will make the South Carolina plant the manufacturer’s largest plant in the world. “BMW said it had built 2.6 million vehicles in Spartanburg since the plant opened in 1994. After the expansion is complete, Spartanburg will have the largest capacity of BMW’s 28 production facilities around the world.”
BMW has had much success around the world, especially in the United States. “The United States is the second largest market for the BMW Group Worldwide behind China and is the largest market for Mini and Rolls-Royce and BMW M high performance cars.”
Currently, the Spartanburg plant’s capacity is 350,000 units, and last year the plant produced nearly 300,000 vehicles. The plant also employs approximately 70,000 people in the United States alone ranging from factory workers, direct dealers, and suppliers. The Spartanburg plant itself employs nearly 8,000 workers. BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said that the manufacturer’s recent investment means, “50 percent more than today and these 150,000 additional cars is equal to a whole new plant.”
According to Manfred Erlacher, president of BMW Manufacturing Co., “this is the fifth expansion since production began 20 years ago and represents another major investment.” BMW currently has 28 factories in 13 countries, and more than 70 percent of the plant’s production is exported to more than 140 countries around the world according to Harald Krueger, BMW board member for production. Annually, BMW’s Spartanburg plant exports vehicles valuing over $7.5 billion which makes BMW “the largest U.S. vehicle exporter by value to non-NAFTA countries,” according the U.S. Department of Commerce.
This planned expansion is good for both the BMW organization, as well as for employment opportunities. The Spartanburg plant is expecting to hire an additional 800 workers, a 10 percent increase, due to the expansion. The expansion will also help BMW meet the growing global demand for its crossover SUVs.