BMW celebrates 25 years, 4.5 million vehicles and counting

Published on Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Enlarge photo

Twenty-five years since the first BMW rolled off the line, the plant employs more than 11,000 people who build 1,500 BMWs daily.

BMW Photo

Twenty-five years since the first BMW rolled off the line, the plant employs more than 11,000 people who build 1,500 BMWs daily.


It all started in June 1992 when BMW Chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim announced the company would build its first full production factory outside of Germany. BMW chose Spartanburg as the location because of the deep water port of Charleston, its advanced technical college system and the state’s strong work ethic.

Only two years later – September 1994 – the first BMW built in the United States rolled off the assembly line in Greer as hundreds of proud associates cheered.

Twenty-five years later, the BMW plant employs more than 11,000 people who build 1,500 BMWs daily.

The facility represents an investment of $10.6 billion that includes two massive body shops, two paint shops, two assembly halls and an elaborate logistics operation. Every day, the BMW team produces five top-selling BMW X models and four Motorsport X models sold in more than 125 countries.

Monday at the BMW X3/X4 Assembly Hall, Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing, welcomed South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, South Carolina Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt and other state and local dignitaries to celebrate the significant impact of the plant.

“This plant has been successful because of our people – their performance, passion and pride,” said Flor. “Over the past 25 years, we have had continuous investment, excellent facilities and the best equipment. What makes the difference is the spirit of our associates, their passion for excellence and the pride they have in their work.”

"In 1994, the first BMW produced in North America – a 318i – rolled off the company’s assembly line. That moment was a game-changer for South Carolina,” said McMaster.

“In the quarter century since, we have seen BMW spur economic development across the state.” The Greer plant is the largest BMW production facility in the world.

A 2018 study by the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina estimated the annual economic impact of BMW Manufacturing on the U.S. economy, measured in terms of overall output, was $38.5 billion. The study also said that BMW Manufacturing operations in South Carolina support nearly 104,000 jobs across the United States.

Because it exports more than two-thirds of its product, the BMW factory makes a considerable impact on U.S. economic growth. BMW Manufacturing ships nearly 70 percent of its popular X models to customers around the world.

For five consecutive years, BMW has been the largest automotive exporter by value in the United States. Over its 25 years of production, the BMW plant has exported more than three million vehicles, with about 90 percent going through the port of Charleston.

“Over the course of history, very few events take place that have the power and significance to transform an entire state,” said Hitt. “An occurrence of that magnitude is rare and happened when BMW located its first North American manufacturing facility in Spartanburg County.

“Now 25 years and more than 4.75 million vehicles later, South Carolina is a global leader in the automotive industry,” said Hitt. “Today, we celebrate BMW’s anniversary in South Carolina and look forward to continued growth in the years to come.”

Flor recognized the 25-year associates for their pioneering spirit during the plant’s “start-up” phase in 1994. Then, Flor and BMW associate Ryan Childers unveiled a specially-marked red, white and blue BMW X7 that displayed 25-year totals for vehicles produced, vehicles exported, investment and number of jobs.

“It’s incredible how BMW Manufacturing has transformed from a small Roadster plant to the largest BMW plant in the world,” said Childers, who drove the first BMW off the assembly line on September 8, 1994. “We take great pride in the accomplishments of the BMW Plant Spartanburg team over the past 25 years.”

Facts about BMW Manufacturing

• The BMW Group has invested $10.6 Billion (through June 30), and the

Spartanburg plant has gone through six major expansions.

• There are more than 11,000 jobs onsite.

• More than 40 direct Tier 1 suppliers are located in South Carolina and more than 300 suppliers are in the United States.

• The physical size of BMW Plant in Greer is more than 7 million square feet with the recent addition of a new body shop, an expansion of the X5/X6 assembly hall, and an expansion of logistics. 

• The most recent investment announcement was $600 million announced in 2017. This included the expansion of the X3/X4 assembly hall by 140,000 square feet and renovation/re-tooling of the first-generation X4 body shop.

• The plant produces 1,500 vehicles each day.

• Approximately 70% of the steel and aluminum used in manufacturing BMWs in the U.S. is produced in the U.S.

• About 70 percent of Greer’s production is exported to more than 125 world

• According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the BMW Group is the highest value vehicle exporter from the U.S. with a total export value of about $8.446 billion in 2018.

Vehicles built at BMW Manufacturing

• X3 Sports Activity Vehicle (Third Generation)

• X4 Sports Activity Coupé (Second Generation)

• X5 Sports Activity Vehicle (Fourth Generation)

• X6 Sports Activity Coupé (Third Generation)

• X7 Sports Activity Vehicle (First Generation)

• The plant produces four Motorsport models: X3 M, X4 M, X5 M and X6 M.

• By the end of 2019, the plant will also produce two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles: X3 xDrive 30e and X5 xDrive 45e.

Production in 2018 totaled 356,749 units.

• Total X3 Units: 144,349

• Total X4 Units: 43,728

• Total X5 Units: 137,688

• Total X6 Units: 30,514

• Total X7 Units: 470

BMW models produced since opening in 1994.

• 318i (1994-96)

• Z3 Roadster and variants (1995 – 2002)

• X5 (1999 – current)

• Z4 Roadster and variants (2002 – 2008)

• X6 (2007 – current)

• X3 (2010 – current)

• X4 (2014 – current)

• X7 (2018 – current)

The plant has produced more than 4.75 million vehicles since the first car was built in September 1994. Here are some key production milestones.

• Sept., 8, 1994: The first BMW, a 318i, was produced.

• Feb., 28, 2006: The one millionth BMW, a Z4 M Roadster, was produced.

• Jan., 12, 2012: The two millionth BMW, an X3 xDrive35i, was produced.

• March 24, 2015: The three millionth BMW, an X5 M, was produced.

• Sept., 8, 2017: The four millionth BMW, an X3 xDrive M40i, was produced.



Related Photo Galleries

Leave a Comment

Trending: Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Obituaries, Chon Restaurant, Allen Bennett Hospital