Spartanburg BMW plant sets production record in 2016


Spartanburg County-based BMW Manufacturing Co. set a new vehicle production record in 2016 — the third consecutive year the local plant has increased its output.

The company said it produced 411,171 X models, a nearly 2.6 percent increase compared with 2015’s tally of 400,904.

It maintained its position as the largest BMW plant in the world.

“Last year was a very successful year for Plant Spartanburg,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co., in a statement. “Our X models continue to be extremely popular worldwide, and I’m proud of the commitment shown by our team of dedicated associates to deliver premium quality vehicles for our customers.”

BMW Manufacturing Co. said it exported 287,700 vehicles, about 70 percent of its total production, to markets across the globe. A vast majority of those vehicles were exported via the Port of Charleston.

The Spartanburg plant is the production capital of the German luxury automaker’s light trucks division, which includes the X3, X4, X5 and X6 Sports Activity Vehicles (SAV). BMW’s popular X1 SAV, which it does not consider to be a light truck, is produced in Germany.

A breakdown of the plant’s production showed it produced 151,298 X3 units, 56,404 X4s, 165,377 X5s and 38,092 X6s. By comparison, the plant in 2015 produced 142,613 X3s, 55,027 X4s, 158,755 X5s and 44,X6s.

That means production of the X3 increased by 6 percent in 2016, the X4 by 2.5 percent and the X5 by about 4.2 percent. Production of the X6 decreased by nearly 14.4 percent.

BMW Group on Monday reported its global sales increased 5.3 percent in 2016 to a total of 2,367,603 vehicles.

The automaker said it delivered 644,992 X models to its customers during the year, a 22.3 percent increase compared with 2015.

Of the more than 2 million brand vehicles it sold around the world in 2016, nearly one in three were X models, the company said.

BMW is nearing the end of the $1 billion expansion it announced in 2014 to increase the Spartanburg plant’s production capacity to 450,000 vehicles and support production of the new full-size X7.

Steve Wilson, a spokesman for BMW Manufacturing Co., said plant officials are hopeful the positive trend in production will continue, but those numbers can be impacted by the life cycle of vehicles. For instance, production of an older version of a model is ramped down before production of the newer version is ramped up.

Wilson said production of the X7 is expected to begin in late 2018.

“Our capacity is 450,000 and I expect we will continue to build cars near that capacity,” he said.

In May, the plant celebrated the production of its 3.5 millionth vehicle since it began assembly in 1994. Based on its current production, the plant could hit its 4 millionth vehicle milestone in 2017.

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