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Greenville Business Magazine

BMW Manufacturing Is Largest U.S. Automotive Exporter by Value for 7th Consecutive Year

By David Dykes

For the seventh consecutive year, BMW Manufacturing led the nation in automotive exports by value, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

BMW Manufacturing exported 218,820 sports activity vehicles and coupes during 2020 with an export value of more than $8.9 billion.

The BMWs produced in Spartanburg were exported through the Port of Charleston (more than 189,000 units), and through five other southeastern ports: Savannah, Georgia; Brunswick, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Miami, Florida; and Everglades, Florida.

More than 13,000 BMWs also were exported via rail.

The top five export countries from BMW Manufacturing were China (23.3 percent of export volume), Germany (12.9 percent), South Korea (7.8 percent), Canada (6 percent) and Russia (5.3 percent).

“Claiming the top spot once again for U.S. automotive exports is a direct result of the commitment and dedication of the Plant Spartanburg team during the challenging 2020 production year,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “BMW is proud to contribute to the U.S. balance of trade as we continue to be the leading manufacturer of premium vehicles for the world.”

“South Carolina’s long, successful partnership with BMW proves that the growth potential in South Carolina is limitless,” said Gov. Henry McMaster. “As BMW celebrates leading the nation in automotive exports by value for the seventh straight year, we know that with our probusiness climate and elite workforce they have only scratched the surface of what they can achieve in South Carolina.”

“When BMW announced more than 28 years ago the decision to locate the company’s first North American manufacturing operations in South Carolina, it was a true game changer for the Palmetto State,” said S.C. Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “The fact that our state remains the leader in the export sales of completed passenger vehicles, particularly during a challenging year, is a reflection of the incredible commitment and partnership between BMW and South Carolina.”

Like all automotive manufacturers, the Spartanburg plant experienced a production interruption due to the coronavirus pandemic.

After a five-week non-production period, associates returned for one shift on May 4.

With new health guidelines and procedures in place, production slowly ramped up as the supply chain stabilized and customers returned in the summer.

During the last six months of the year, the Spartanburg plant produced nearly 218,000 BMWs, a record for any six-month period in the factory’s history.

In all, the plant produced 361,365 vehicles for the entire year 2020.

The plug-in hybrid electric variants of the plant’s two most popular vehicles set production records in 2020, BMW officials said.

The BMW X3 xDrive30e (22,964 units) and the BMW X5 xDrive45e (24,248 units) achieved all-time highs, in part, because of a 2019 expansion of the battery assembly hall, the officials said.

The 47,212 electrified BMWs made up 13 percent of the plant’s total production last year.

BMW has assembled batteries for electrified vehicles since 2015, making the BMW Group a pioneer of electromobility in the United States, company officials said.

BMW Manufacturing produces about 1,500 vehicles each day, exporting more than two-thirds of its models to 125 global markets.

The model portfolio includes five top-selling BMW X models, four Motorsport X models and two plug-in hybrid electric X models.

The factory has a production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles and employs more than 11,000 people.

BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC is a subsidiary of BMW AG in Munich, Germany, and is the global producer of the BMW X3, X3 M, X5, X5 M and X7 Sports Activity Vehicles and X4, X4 M, X6 and X6 M Sports Activity Coupes.

In addition to the South Carolina manufacturing facility, BMW Group North American subsidiaries include sales, marketing and financial services operations in the United States, Canada and throughout Latin America; a BMW manufacturing plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico; and a design firm and technology office in California.