If you had to guess which was the largest exporter of automobiles from the United States, which would you go with? General Motors? Ford? Fiat Chrysler, even? Guess again: it’s BMW.
That is, by value, anyway. The German automaker cites data from the US Department of Commerce to cement its place once again as the leading exporter of new cars from the United States.
BMW currently operates just one plant in the US, but it’s the company’s largest worldwide. The Spartanburg assembly plant handles production of most of the automaker’s crossovers, including the X3, X4, X5, and X6. And it’s gearing up for production of the new X7, too.
“As the nation’s leader in the export sales of completed passenger vehicles, South Carolina accounts for more than 16 percent of the total U.S. market share,” said Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt. “This figure perfectly depicts the state’s unmatched global connectivity and status as a major player in the global automotive industry.”
Last year, BMW Manufacturing in South Carolina built 371,284 vehicles – at rate of about 1,400 per day. Of those, it exported 272,346 of them – or roughly 70 percent of its total output. Most of those left the US through the nearby Port of Charleston, with a combined value of some $8.75 billion. The remaining 13 percent that didn’t leave through Charleston went out through ports in Georgia (Savannah and Brunswick) and Florida (Jacksonville, Miami, and the Everglades).
The plant is also one of the greenest in America. It produces nearly half of its energy from methane gas, piped in from a nearby landfill and turned into electricity by two on-site turbines. It also operates the world’s largest fleet of hydrogen-powered forklifts, tuggers, and material trains, and draws enough electricity from solar panels on the roof to power the museum and a trio of public EV charging stations.