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BMW to build new model at South Carolina facility

Manufacturing
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BMW currently produces the X3, X5 and X6 models at its Spartanburg County plant.  The company announced today that it will add the new X4 sports activity vehicle to its production line in the Upstate. (Photo/File)

By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published Jan. 12, 2012

BMW said today it plans to hire 300 people in 2012 and up to 700 more by 2014 as it adds production of a new X4 sports activity vehicle at its Spartanburg County plant.

Frank-Peter Arndt, BMW Group board member responsible for production, said the company plans to invest $900 million to prepare the 4 million-square-foot Spartanburg facility for the new model.

A timeline for production of the X4 model hasn’t been released. BMW Manufacturing Co. President Josef Kerscher said it would take two years to prepare the facility for the new model.

No product details could be discussed at this time.

“This is one reaction to the rising global demand for our BMX X Models,” Arndt said.

The X4 sports activity vehicle will be the fourth model built at the growing Upstate factory, joining the X3, X5 and X6.

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Kerscher said the workforce, infrastructure and the Port of Charleston play a major role in the company’s continued expansion in the Upstate. BMW is the largest automotive exporter to the non-NAFTA countries.

BMW exports 70% of its products. S.C. State Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome said he only expects that to continue when the X4 production begins.

BMW opened a new assembly line in Spartanburg in 2010, leading to dramatic production growth last year from 150,000 annually to more than 276,000 vehicles in 2011. Additionally, BMW became the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S. last year, as sales of the SAV models built in Spartanburg increased substantially.

The X4 is expected to push production at the plant to around 350,000 annually. In the nearer term, annual production could reach 300,000 as BMW hires 300 people.

BMW has now produced 2 million vehicles in Spartanburg County since launching U.S. production in 1994. The automaker drove the 2 millionth vehicle into a crowded room during the news conference today to commemorate the production milestone.

Since 1994, the plant has undergone four major expansions and produced six different BMW models and their variants: 318i, Z3, Z4, X5, X6 and X3. Employment has grown from 500 in 1994 to more than 7,000 today. The plant will employ nearly 7,500 by the end of the year.

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