Applause echoed across the Spartanburg, South Carolina, plant as the phytonic blue BMW X3 xDriveM40i inched forward, heading for a dealer in Vienna, Austria.
With predictable precision, the X3 hit the finish line September 8 — exactly 23 years after the first car exited the building. “This achievement reflects the commitment and dedication of every associate to produce premium quality vehicles, ” says Knudt Flor, President and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “Customers around the world love our products, and our X models are an important part of the company’s success.”
The atmosphere across the 1150-acre campus has been exceptionally festive this season, as the plant marks 25 years since conception. It has grown into the carmaker’s largest facility, out of 31 production and assembly sites in 14 countries.
And now it’s getting even bigger, kicking off a four-year, $600 million expansion.
This infusion of money will augment infrastructure, associates and training. “We will keep investing in our people and in our business in the U.S., ” explains Harald Krueger, chairman of BMW AG’s board of management. “By 2021, we will create further 1, 000 jobs. Training and qualifying our associates is key to our future success.”
The additional associates will push the car manufacturer’s workforce over 10, 000, as they focus on building BMW X4, X5 and X6s, as well as the new 2018 BMW X3. Everyone gathered in June to watch Krueger unveil the compact sports activity vehicle, which carries a November delivery date.
As for physical expansion, BMW is wrapping up Phase II on a 1.2 million-square-foot body shop that includes 2, 000 robots and equals the size of the original plant. Construction on this addition marks the fifth major upgrade to the facility since it opened. Crews are currently installing new tooling and conveyors. When completed in late 2018, the new space will bring BMW’s total footprint to 7 million square feet.
Last year, the plant heralded a record-production of more than 411, 000 units.
“I remain confident that our footprint and commitment will continue to grow not only in the great state of South Carolina, but also in the United States in the years to come, ” says Krueger.
Text by Stephanie Trotter