Industry Headlines

BMW Celebrates 15 Years of U.S. Manufacturing

September 9, 2009
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SPARTANBURG, SC-On September 8, 1994, the first U.S.-made BMW 318i rolled off the line in Spartanburg, SC. Fifteen years later, BMW Manufacturing’s 1.5 millionth vehicle rolled off the line at the Spartanburg facility.

The 1.5 millionth vehicle is a 2009 Monaco Blue BMW X6 xDrive 35i with oyster interior. The vehicle is right-hand drive and has been ordered by a customer in Hong Kong.

In addition to remarks by South Carolina’s Secretary of Commerce Joe Taylor, Sky Foster and Ryan Childers, the BMW associates that presented the Spartanburg factory’s first vehicle to the world in September 1994, also reflected on their 15 years with BMW Manufacturing.

“Today’s events represent a significant milestone for BMW, emphasizing both BMW’s commitment to the U.S. market and its confidence in the future,” said Josef Kerscher, president of BMW Manufacturing. “We are very proud of the positive impact this BMW plant has delivered for this area and the quality of the vehicles that our associates produce for world markets each day.”

BMW announced their plans to build the first factory outside of Germany in June of 1992. Construction on the plant began in 1993 and the first vehicle rolled off the line in September 1994. Since then, BMW has produced 5 different vehicles and their variants, the BMW 318i, the Z3 and Z4 roadsters, the BMW X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and the X6 Sports Activity Coupe. BMW has expanded the plant 5 times, including the current $750 million expansion to add 1.5 million square feet. Following this most recent expansion, the plant will be 4 million square feet.

To date, BMW has invested $4.2 billion in South Carolina and employs about 5,000 people including contractors at the plant. According to the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business, who conducted an economic impact study on the plant in 2008, BMW’s South Carolina factory supports 23,050 jobs and generates $1.2 billion in wages and salaries annually within the state. In addition, the total economic output associated with BMW’s annual economic activities is more than $8.8 billion in South Carolina.

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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