Spartanburg, SC – BMW CEO Oliver Zipse announced today a new wave of investments at BMW’s largest plant in the world. According to the Chairman of the BMW Board, the Munich-based automaker will spend $1.7 billion at Plant Spartanburg to get the facility ready for the new wave of electric vehicles.
The massive investment will bring the production of future Neue Klasse models to the United States. Zipse says that at least six electric vehicles will enter production at the factory in South Carolina by 2030. The plant will go through a transformation over the next three years preparing for production in 2025 and first EV market launch in 2026. The new class of electric SUVs/crossover fall under the “XNF” project codename. To support their arrival, $700 million will be invested in a new battery assembly facility located in Woodruff, SC.
Gen6 Battery Technology
BMW has already previewed the next-gen of battery technology which will be developed specifically for Neue Klasse vehicles. The round cells will replace the Prismatic cells and will boost range and charging speed by as much as 30 percent and increase energy density by more than 20 percent. Japanese battery-maker Envision AESC will make the BMW cells in the United States. The maximum annual capacity will be 30 GWh.
According to Johannes Zirngibl, assembly manager at Plant Spartanburg, roughly 1,600 employees would have to be retrained for the Neue Klasse products. In addition, new production processes and tooling are required as well. The new electric crossovers will join the assembly hall that currently builds the X3 and X4. BMW says that capacity at Plant Spartanburg will expand from 180,000 vehicles to around 290,000. The total square footage will also increase significantly.
Last year, BMW manufactured 70,000 plug-in hybrid vehicles in Spartanburg. Currently there are 170 PHEVs produced every day. It takes on average 730 minutes to build a plug-in hybrid. BMW plant engineers say that there are 2,0000 ongoing electrical checks on each plug-in hybrid before it leaves the production line.
First US-made Electric SUV in 2025
The Munich-based automaker has to reveal which electric models it will build in Spartanburg, but there were several rumors in the past around upcoming BMW electric crossovers. iX5, iX6 and iX7 are some of the rumored models, but these are allegedly CLAR-based EVs, not Neue Klasse. CLAR is the name of the current flexible cluster architecture for rear-wheel drive vehicles. In 2020, Zipse announced that the next generation of the cluster architecture will arrive in 2025.
As we reported before, the next-gen iX3 (codename NA5) is likely to be the first BMW electric SUV on Neue Klasse. The iX3 is also likely to be followed a year later by the iX4 (NA7). Of course, the BMW M brand will be part of the electrification plans in Spartanburg, so we expect models like an iX3M or iX5M (names TBD) to arrive by the end of this decade. None of these models have been currently confirmed by BMW or by the M Division.
Choice and flexibility are the current buzzwords in Munich and according to the company, the updated Spartanburg Plant will be capable of building ICE, EVS and FCEVs (fuel-cell vehicles).