BMW Investing $1.7B to Expand EV Manufacturing Footprint in South Carolina

October 31, 2022 by Dan McCue
BMW Investing $1.7B to Expand EV Manufacturing Footprint in South Carolina
Plant Spartanburg (BMW)

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — BMW Group, long a driver of economic development in South Carolina, has announced it is investing $1.7 billion to dramatically expand its capability to produce electric vehicles in the state.

About $1 billion of the investment will be used to prepare for the production of electric vehicles at Plant Spartanburg, and $700 million will be used to build a new high-voltage battery assembly facility in nearby Woodruff, South Carolina.

“For decades, Plant Spartanburg has been a cornerstone of the global success of the BMW Group as the home of the BMW X models that are so popular all over the world,” said BMW Group Chairman Oliver Zipse at the press conference announcing the investment.

“Going forward, it will also be a major driver for our electrification strategy, and we will produce at least six fully electric BMW X models here by 2030,” he said “That means the ‘home of the X’ is also becoming the ‘home of the battery electric vehicle.’

“In addition, we can showcase BMW Group’s ‘local for local’ principle,” Zipse continued. “Our newly developed sixth generation battery cells, which were specifically designed for the next generation Neue Klasse electric vehicles, will be sourced here in South Carolina — where X goes electric.”

BMW has partnered with Envision AESC, which will build a new battery cell factory in South Carolina, to supply Plant Spartanburg. 

Though many details of the partnership have yet to be announced, what is known is that Envision will produce BMW’s newly developed sixth generation round lithium-ion battery cells, which were specifically designed for the next generation Neue Klasse electric vehicles. 

The new battery format will increase energy density by more than 20%, improve charging speed by up to 30% and enhance range by up to 30%. 

At the same time, the use of secondary material for raw materials — including lithium, cobalt and nickel, as well as renewable energy for production — CO2 emissions from cell production will be reduced by up to 60%. 

The new high-voltage battery assembly facility in Woodruff near Plant Spartanburg will create 300 new jobs, encompass over one million square feet and produce next generation batteries for fully electric vehicles.

Plant Spartanburg currently produces lithium-ion battery modules for the two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles built at the plant; the BMW X3 xDrive30e and BMW X5 xDrive45e. In 2021, nearly 70,000 electrified BMWs were built on-site. The plant also produces the BMW X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 Sports Activity Vehicles and four BMW M models. Production of the all-new hybrid-electric BMW XM will begin later this year. 

The Coordinating Council for Economic Development awarded a $65 million closing fund grant to Spartanburg County to assist with costs related to the project.

“BMW’s sustained and impactful presence in South Carolina demonstrates the power of partnership and shared commitment to our state’s automotive industry success,” said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster.

“With this announcement … the road to the future is here,” he said.

Plant Spartanburg was established 30 years ago and began producing vehicles two years later. Since then, the plant has become the global center of competence for BMW Sports Activity Vehicles and a critical component of the company’s global production network. 

The plant currently represents an investment of nearly $12 billion, has more than 11,000 employees and has an annual capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles. To date, more than six million BMW vehicles have been built in South Carolina — for the U.S. and global markets. Based on this strength, BMW has been the largest automotive exporter from the U.S. by value for the past eight years.

The plant is supported by more than 300 suppliers in the U.S., including over 40 direct tier 1 suppliers in South Carolina alone. 

“This is a very important step for Plant Spartanburg as we continue our legacy of producing high-quality vehicles, and build on the success of the last 30 years,” said BMW Manufacturing president and CEO Dr. Robert Engelhorn.

“With this latest investment, we future-proof our operations and prepare the plant for electrification and new technologies, ensuring both the long-term success of our company and our position as an attractive and viable employer in the state of South Carolina.” 

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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