BMW just confirmed the birth of a new model in the their SAV line up, the BMW X7, via a live broadcast on the web from their Spartanburg, SC manufacturing plant. BMW is investing an additional one billion dollars to create new production capacity there which will also build the X7 in South Carolina. The all new X7 will be the full size SUV that has been lacking in BMW’s line up and will compete against the likes of the Mercedes GL Class which starts at $63,000. Unfortunately no details or pictures were released of the new X7 which is slotted to launch in 2018.
The announcement of the BMW X7 now brings BMW SUV offerings up to six unique models, the BMW X1, X3, X4, X5, X6 and now X7. All but the X1 are built in the U.S. at the Spartanburg, SC plant.
This plant currently employees 8,000 and with the addition of the X7 line will increase employment to 8,800. BMW says the extra production capacity will allow them to increase annual production from 300,000 to 450,000 at Spartanburg. This is a 50% production capacity increase on only an additional 10% to the work force.
In attendance were some heavy hitters, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker as well as Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina. BMW brought Dr Norbert Reithofer, BMW Group Chairman as well as Harald Krueger, BMW Board Member and Global Production, as well as President of BMW Manufacturing Manfred Erlacher.
Spartanburg, SC BMW plant has been open since 1994 and has manufactured 2.6 million vehicles to date ranging from its first BMW produced, a 1994 318i E36 sedan, to Z3 models in the beginning, to now a full-on SUV production center. Total investment in the BMW Spartanburg plant do date has been a staggering $6.3 billion since inception. BMW exports approximately 70% of all production at the plant to 140 countries throughout the world.
In 2013 the plant built 297,326 BMW’s and exported 201,000 of them, making BMW the largest single foreign car manufacturer exporter to non-NAFTA countries in the US. Current production is about 1,100 BMWs a day. The Spartanburg Plant makes BMWs here that are not available in the US, such as the X6M50d.
Speaking about BMW’s investment at the Plant in Spartanburg, Manfred Erlacher, President and CEO of BMW Manufacturing, noted “This is the fifth expansion since production began 20 years ago and represents another major investment.” BMW’s Spartanburg plant currently has three body shop lines, the X3, the X4 and the X5/X6. These are housed in two assembly halls – the X3/X4 and the X5/X6.
By the end of 2014 the SC Plant will have two paint shops with over 100 robots and an integrated paint process producing 40% fewer emissions all the while using 30% less energy. The plant has more than 1,400 robots that have “Best-Fit” technology which are accurate within tenths of a millimeter. The Spartanburg plant also has a fully automated engine marriage process.
Highlighting BMW’s sustainability, the Spartanburg plant has the world’s largest hydrogen fuel cell fleet for a single site. Further a whopping 50% of the BMW plant’s energy needs are from methane gas produced from the near by Palmetto Landfill.