It seems the mainstream media is catching on to the importance of BMW’s manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina. BMW recently announced a $1 billion expansion of the facility and a new product, the X7 to be built in Spartanburg.
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With the commitment to expand, BMW will be able to manufacture up to 450,000 vehicles annually at the Spartanburg facility. The capacity of the Spartanburg plant exceeds that of either of the two heavyweight facilities in Germany, Regensburg and Dingolfing.
The Spartanburg plant also has been a proving ground for new BMW manufacturing processes and energy conservation. BMW purchases energy, in the form of methane gas, from a nearby landfill. Spartanburg was also the facility where BMW implemented a new extremely energy efficient paint process. They also have been testing the use of hydrogen fuel cell fork trucks in the plant and it was in Spartanburg that the ‘palm and finger’ assembly hall layout was pioneered.
And, given the current USD to Euro exchange rate, it is extremely profitable for BMW to build in the US. And it delivers a nice little side benefit to the US, BMW exports more autos from the US than any other US manufacturer.
The facility initially built 3 series cars, but was planned to build X series vehicles, SUVs that BMW termed Sports Activity Vehicles. As has been mentioned before, 3 series are built by a new plant as a means of calibrating processes and quality.
The Spartanburg facility also built Z3s for a time until the demand for X vehicles (and an expansion of the X range) called for devoting more of the facility to X production. Now that the X7 is joining the line up along with the X3, X4, X5, and X6 BMW has enhanced its commitment to US manufacturing.