Report: BMW Largest U.S. Auto Exporter on Popularity of SUVs
South Carolina Plant Poised For Further Growth with X7
When you think of export-based economies and, specifically, nations that have built their wealth and reputations in the auto industries, Germany and Japan immediately come to mind. But ironically, the United States is becoming a major auto-exporting hub, and most of the models hitting the seas are not adorned with blue ovals or bowties but with roundels. According to a Bloomberg report, BMW is the largest current auto exporter by volume in the U.S. The company’s Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant is the worldwide source for the popular X3, X5, and X6 SUV models. Although much of the production goes to the SUV-crazy U.S. market, the majority of models -- 70 percent -- are shipped to markets outside North America.
Spartanburg’s importance in BMW’s global production strategy will only increase with the introduction of the fullsize X7, a model announced in March. With the addition of the X7, Spartanburg’s production volume could grow to as large as 450,000 a year, an unfathomable figure 20 years ago when the plant first opened with a modest annual production goal of 50,000 units. The plant’s first product was the niche BMW Z3 roadster and coupe. Production of the game-changing X5 SUV was added in 1999, which was the catalyst for the plant’s growth. Spartanburg now builds all of BMW’s SUV models with the exception of the X1 compact crossover, which is built in Leipzig, Germany.