The BMW Group is planning to sink $10 million into its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to double its capacity for battery assembly prior to the debuts of the plug-in hybrid electric variants of its popular X3 and X5 models.
The investment comes amid continuing trade tension between the Trump administration and the European Union and China, which are major destinations for vehicles built in Spartanburg. The plant has exported more vehicles to overseas destinations than any other factory in the U.S. but has been threatened by the crossfire in the Trump administration’s trade wars.
Tensions between the EU and the Trump administration have run high enough for Germany to send its economic minister over to the U.S. to promote all of the investment made by German companies in recent years in hopes of taking the edge off of preliminary talks.
The new, higher performing, fourth-generation batteries will be assembled in Spartanburg, starting in August. Production of the BMW X3 xDrive30e is scheduled to begin in December.
With the expansion of the battery facility, the BMW Group is following the principle of local value creation, according to Michael Nikolaides, senior vice president engines and electrified drivetrains, BMW Group.
“We have invested approximately $10 million to install a new battery assembly line and expanded the area to 86,000 square feet. This means we could double the number of batteries produced if needed to meet market demand,” Nikolaides said.
In addition, BMW Group has invested another $10 million to support the production of the new PHEV models.
More than 120 employees were specially trained to work the new line, having completed an extensive program in battery production, robotics and electrical inline quality inspection along with end-of-line testing.
An additional 225 vehicle assembly workers received training in the production of electrified vehicles, adding to the Plant’s already skilled staff.
“We have assembled batteries on site at Plant Spartanburg since 2015, making BMW Group a pioneer of electromobility in the U.S.,” said Knudt Flor, president and CEO, BMW Manufacturing Co. LLC.
“The BMW X5 and X3 are currently among the best-selling BMW models in the U.S. and we anticipate that their PHEV variants will also be well-received by BMW customers.”
From 2015 – 2018, BMW Group Plant Spartanburg produced the X5 xDrive40e, the first plug-in hybrid production car from the BMW core brand. All totaled, the plant’s battery assembly team assembled more than 45,000 batteries during this four-year period.
BMW Group Plant Spartanburg is the global center for production of BMW Sports Activity Vehicles and Coupes and produces BMW X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 models and their variants. Since starting production 25 years ago, the plant has built more than 4.6 million BMW vehicles for the U.S. market and the world.