BMW will invest $1.7 billion to expand its American operations in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and prepare for the production of at least six new electric vehicles.
As part of the expansion, BMW will invest $1 billion in the plant, specifically. That will prepare the SUV manufacturing facility for the new electric vehicles, which will, in turn, allow it to go beyond the production of the two plug-in hybrid vehicles it already offers, the BMW X3 xDrive30e and the X5 xDrive45e.
Although the facility currently makes lithium-ion battery modules for those vehicles, that will likely no longer be the case following this expansion. That’s because the remaining $700 million of BMW’s investment will go towards building a new battery assembly center in nearby Woodruff, South Carolina.
The 1 million-square-foot (92,903 square meter) facility will be operated by 300 new employees, and will produce BMW’s next-generation cylindrical batteries. The new battery format increases energy density by 20 percent, improves charging speeds by 30 percent, and enhances range by 30 percent, according to the automaker.
The batteries will be produced with the cooperation of Envision AESC, which BMW describes as an important partner in its plan to strengthen its regional supply chain. Production of the batteries, meanwhile, will require 60 percent fewer emissions, thanks to the use of recycled lithium, cobalt, and nickel.
“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 Robert Engelhorn, President and CEO, BMW Manufacturing Co. “With this latest investment, we futureproof 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.”
BMW’s largest plant, Spartanburg is the home of the automaker’s SUV production, better known as its X models. Thanks to this investment, BMW’s chairman of the board, Oliver Zipse, says the plant will also lead the company’s electric revolution.
“Going forward, [Spartanburg] 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,” said Zipse. “That means: The ‘Home of the X’ is also becoming the ‘Home of the Battery Electric Vehicle’.”