Erin Riches-Wong | March 4, 2020
BMW makes a lot of money building crossover utility vehicles and they're not just for Americans who love premium SUVs. In 2019, the automaker led all U.S.-based manufacturers in automotive export value at $9.6 million.
The company's 25-year-old Spartanburg, S.C., assembly plant churned out 411,620 luxury crossovers last year. That was a new record for the plant. The automaker exported 246,014 of these BMWs made in America to markets outside the United States.
Although the South Carolina operation started out building small cars like the 318i and Z3, BMW has transformed it into a premium SUV powerhouse. The original and wildly successful BMW X5 rolled off the line in September 1999. Currently, the 11,000 workers here build the BMW X3, X4, X5, X6, and X7 along with their high-performance M variants, the X3 M, X4 M, X5 M, and X6 M.
J.D. Power ranked the Spartanburg-built BMW X4 first among compact premium SUVs in both its 2019 Initial Quality Study and 2019 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study. Among midsize premium SUVs, the BMW X5 ranked third in the APEAL Study behind the Porsche Cayenne and Audi Q8.
Meanwhile, the American-made BMW X3 ranked first among compact premium SUVs in J.D. Power's 2019 Vehicle Dependability Study of three-year-old vehicles.
BMW Spartanburg built its 4 millionth vehicle in September 2017, and the 5 millionth BMW made in America will come down the assembly line later in 2020.
The South Carolina plant builds more vehicles than any other BMW manufacturing facility in the world. BMW's Dingolfing, Germany, assembly plant has similar manufacturing capacity but assembled only 284,907 vehicles in 2019 as it underwent remodeling to support 2021 production of the all-electric iNext crossover.
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