By Donna Isbell Walker and David Dykes
The BMW Group continued the roll-out of its electromobility plan with a new investment in the U.S. to expand Plant Spartanburg and the company’s manufacturing footprint in the U.S.
BMW Group Chairman of the Board of Management, Oliver Zipse, announced Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2022, a $1.7 billion investment in its U.S. operations, including $1 billion to prepare for the production of electric vehicles at the company’s existing U.S. manufacturing facility in South Carolina, and $700 million to build a new high-voltage battery assembly facility in nearby Woodruff, S.C.
By 2030 BMW Group will build at least six fully electric models in the U.S. Zipse was joined at Plant Spartanburg by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Secretary of Commerce Harry Lightsey III, Chairman of Spartanburg County Council Economic Development Committee David Britt, and Woodruff Mayor Kenny Gist as he also announced an agreement to source next-generation lithium-ion battery cells from Envision AESC, which will build a new plant in the state.
“For decades, Plant Spartanburg has been a cornerstone of the global success of the BMW Group. The home of the BMW X models that are so popular all over the world. Going forward, it will also be a major driver for our electrification strategy, and we will produce at least six fully electric BMW X models here by 2030. That means: The ‘Home of the X’ is also becoming the ‘Home of the Battery Electric Vehicle’,” Zipse said.
“In addition, we can showcase BMW Group’s ‘local for local’ principle: Our newly developed sixth generation battery cells, which were specifically designed for the next generation electric vehicles, will be sourced here in South Carolina – where X goes electric.”
In line with the principle of “local for local,” the BMW Group said it aims to purchase battery cells for its electric vehicles where production takes place. The company said it has found a partner in Envision AESC, which will build a new battery cell factory in South Carolina, to supply Plant Spartanburg.
Envision will produce newly developed round lithium-ion battery cells, which were specifically designed for the sixth generation of BMW eDrive technology, and will be used in the next generation electric vehicles. The annual capacity of the battery cell factory will be up to 30 GWh.
BMW officials said the new battery format will increase energy density by more than 20 percent, improve charging speed by up to 30 percent and enhance range by up to 30 percent. At the same time, CO2 emissions from cell production will be reduced by up to 60 percent through the partial use of secondary lithium, cobalt and nickel material, as well as renewable energy for production, the officials said.
They added the cooperation with Envision AESC is an important step in the BMW Group's plan to strengthen its regional supply chains. The expansion of electric vehicle production in combination with a local battery cell factory will lead to the creation of new supply chains, new networks for sub-suppliers, and new jobs throughout the entire region, the officials said.
BMW Group has announced that four additional battery cell factories will be built in Europe and China to meet its demand for next-generation battery cells. The cell factories are being built by partners and will each have an annual capacity of up to 20 GWh.
Of the new $1.7 billion investment announced Oct. 19, $700 million will be used to build a new high-voltage BMW battery assembly center in Woodruff. The 1 million square-foot facility will produce next-generation batteries for fully electric vehicles.
More than 300 new jobs will be created on site, company officials said. Plant Spartanburg currently produces lithium-ion battery modules for the two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles built at the plant, the BMW X3 xDrive30e and BMW X5 xDrive45e.
In 2021, nearly 70,000 electrified BMWs were built on site. The site in Woodruff will also leverage the experience and expertise developed in Plant Spartanburg’s existing operations at the new facility, company officials said.
“BMW’s sustained and impactful presence in South Carolina demonstrates the power of partnership and shared commitment to our state’s automotive industry success,” McMaster said.
“With today’s announcement of a $1 billion expansion to Plant Spartanburg for manufacturing electric vehicles as well as $700 million for a new plant in Woodruff to assemble battery units, the road to the future is here. And I applaud BMW on helping lead the way.”
Plant Spartanburg was established 30 years ago and began producing vehicles two years later. Since then, the plant has become the global center of competence for BMW Sports Activity Vehicles and a critical component of the company’s global production network.
The plant represents an investment of nearly $12 billion, employs more than 11,000, and has an annual capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles.