BMW has disclosed a $1-billion investment at its Spartanburg site in South Carolina by 2016 to expand its production capacity by 100,000 units and add output of the X7 seven-seat crossover. According to chief executive Norbert Reithofer, Spartanburg’s annual output will top that of its Dingolfing site in Germany, which can produce 350,000 vehicles annually.
The expansion of the site’s current capacity of 350,000 units will make it the carmaker’s biggest factory worldwide. Spartanburg built 297,326 vehicles in 2013. According to Reithofer, producing 450,000 vehicles annually will mean "a whole new plant” of output beyond the total production in 2013. Manfred Erlacher, president of BMW Manufacturing Co., remarked the latest expansion will be the fifth since production started 20 years ago.
The site has already started output building the new X4 crossover that will be rolled out in the in the United States in June. The Spartanburg site also builds the X3, X5 and X6. Harald Krueger, BMW board member for production, remarked that the German group operates 28 sites in 13 countries. He noted that over 70 percent of the Spartanburg’s production is exported to over 140 countries.
He said that with exports valued over $7.5 billion making BMW the largest US auto exporter by value to non-NAFTA countries, according to the US Department of Commerce. Reithofer also named several other milestones like the US being the second-largest global market for the BMW Group and being the largest market for Mini and Rolls-Royce and BMW M high-performance cars.
He also said that the US is seen to be a major market for the carmaker’s new i electric and plug-in hybrid cars. According to Reithofer, cheap fuel was not the primary driver of BMW’s plans to revive the X7, saying that its return was prompted the group’s marketing and sales division. He added that they just cannot ignore the market.
“This is the fifth expansion since production began 20 years ago and represents another major investment,” said Manfred Erlacher, President and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “The increase in annual capacity, the number of models produced, and the number of jobs on site, reinforce the major role BMW is playing in the region’s economic vitality through technological innovation, environmental stewardship, and development of a highly skilled workforce.” [source: BMW]