Spartanburg-made BMWs are most exported US-built light vehicle

Article by Andrew Christian, on July 15, 2014

South Carolina is considered as a rural state, but BMW AG’s manufacturing facility in Spartanburg has etched its name as a model for the auto industry. BMW commenced building vehicles at its Spartanburg site around 20 years, and has found the site essential for protect its profit margins and staying ahead of its German rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, remarked to Bloomberg that the Spartanburg site has shown the world that good cars could be made at a reasonable cost in the United States.

He said that the site led to a revival of automaking, initially in the southern states and then in Detroit. BMW is currently expanding the site and has earmarked a total of $7.3 billion for the project -- more than seven times than how much Volkswagen AG invested on a new plant in Tennessee.

The titanic investment – which should result to employment of around 8,800 people by 2016 -- only means that BMW will be building more vehicles in South Carolina than anywhere else in the world, even in its home country Germany.

BMW’s Spartanburg site is already the largest exporter of US-built light vehicles to overseas markets. It exports more light vehicles than any site operated by the Detroit 3 -- General Motors, Ford Motor Co. or Chrysler.

The site’s output is also more than what the entire state of Michigan can churn out from all of its factories. But BMW is not stopping there. The German luxury carmaker has grander plans to hike the site’s production capacity by 50 percent to up to 450,000 annually.

BMW is building nearly all of its SUVs at Spartanburg, 70 percent of which are exported to more than 140 countries.

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