The World's Largest BMW Plant By Volume in South Carolina Produces a Record Number of Vehicles in 2021, Including Plug-in Hybrids

The World's Largest BMW Plant By Volume in South Carolina Produces a Record Number of Vehicles in 2021, Including Plug-in Hybrids

Author: FutureCar Staff    

The best selling vehicles in the U.S. include SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks and the world's automakers, including luxury-performance car maker BMW, are churning tens of thousands of them to meet demand, especially for the U.S. market.

BMW currently produces all of its X Series SUV models in the U.S. at its Spartanburg factory in South Carolina, and the plant has a record year of producing luxury SUVs for the automaker in 2021.

BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg set a new production record for last year, assembling a total of 433,810 BMW X vehicles. The record number represents a 20% increase from 2020, which was disrupted by the pandemic. However, the production total surpassed the previous record of 411,620 X Series vehicles produced at the plant in 2019. 

BMW also said it produced a record number of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in 2021, with about 70,000 units shipped from its factory in Spartanburg.  More than half of the BMW vehicles built in Spartanburg were delivered to customers in the U.S. market.

Last year, BMW sold 179,840 Spartanburg-built vehicles in the U.S., which represents 53.4% of all BMW vehicles sold here last year. BMW's top two U.S. models are the X3 and X5 SUVs. 

"The fact that the Plant Spartanburg team set a production record during a very unpredictable year is a testament to the commitment and flexibility of our associates," said Dr. Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. "Our associates continue to build premium quality products that are in high demand by our customers around the world." 

The 2021 production year marked the fourth time the South Carolina plant has topped 400,000 units. The 400,000 unit milestone was also achieved in 2015 (400,904 units), 2016 (411,171), and 2019 (411,620) respectively.

BMW's X Series model lineup model includes five vehicles, the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7, as well as four Motorsport X models based on them and two plug-in hybrid electric vehicle X Series models.

A breakdown of 2021 production by model was 113,831 BMW X3s and 4,418 BMW X3 M models. The popular X5 full-size SUV reached 165,704 units in 2021, including 4,976 M X5 models. BMW also produces the X4, X6 and X7 at the plant.

BMW Plant Spartanburg also saw a 48% increase in the number of electrified vehicles produced last year, as about 70,000 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles were shipped to customers around the world. 

The number of  hybrid X5 xDrive45e vehicles produced was 39,883, while over 30,000 X3 xDrive30e vehicles were built in 2021. 

"Electric mobility is becoming a growth driver and success factor for the company," said Dr. Engelhorn. "Our plant is fully on board to support BMW Group's electrification strategy. We look forward to adding the all-new BMW XM to the Plant Spartanburg family of X models. Series production of the BMW XM, the first plug-in hybrid high-performance model in the BMW M portfolio, will begin in late 2022." 


The 2021 BMW X5 xDrive45e Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV) is built at the automaker's factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

As BMW produces more hybrid and electric vehicles, the company is training its workforce for more high tech assembly roles. In February 2021, BMW announced plans for a new $20 million, 67,000 square foot training facility that will train future employees at the Spartanburg factory. The investment is a continuation of BMW's 2017 commitment to invest $200 million over five years into workforce training. 

The new facility is scheduled to be completed by this summer. It will feature multiple classrooms for both professional development and technical training, an outdoor amphitheater, and a unique concept of outdoor meeting and workspace that includes wireless capabilities. 

BMW Group has invested about $11.9 billion in its South Carolina factory since 1992. As BMW's largest global factory, the plant churns out more than 1,500 vehicles each day. More than two-thirds of these vehicles are exported to 125 global markets.

For seven consecutive years, BMW was the largest exporter by value out of all automakers building cars in the U.S., including General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai and Honda. 

In 2020, BMW exported vehicles from the Spartanburg plant with a value of more than $8.9 billion.

BMW's sprawling Spartanburg assembly plant also provides a massive boost to the local economy. The automaker is a major employer in the Spartanburg region. One out of every 10 jobs in the region related to autos and parts, according to BMW.

Like other auto factories in the Southeast United States including Volvo and Hyundai plants, BMW's Spartanburg plant is non-union and employs hourly workers.

The factory has a production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles a year and employs more than 11,000 people in total. 

FutureCar Staff
FutureCar Staff
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