BMW exported nearly 258,000 US-built luxury SUVs in 2021 alone.
When BMW first introduced the X5 in 1999, diehard fans were perplexed by the carmaker's odd decision to start building an off-roader, something it had never done before. Fast forward two and a bit decades, and the luxury brand's SUV offerings outnumber the sedans on sale.
To say the BMW X models have been successful would be an understatement. In fact, the brand's Spartanburg plant in South Carolina exported a staggering 257,876 X models in 2021, with an export value of more than $10.1 billion. This makes the German brand the biggest automotive exporter in the United States, for the eighth year in a row.
The facility produces the smaller X3 and X4, midsize X5 and X6, and full-size X7. These vehicles are exported to 120 countries across the globe - mainly through the port of Charleston - with nearly 219,000 units leaving the US from there. BMW Manufacturing notes the top five export countries were China (24.1%), Germany (12.3%), South Korea (9.4%), Canada (5.6%), and Great Britain (5.4%).
Despite the crippling semiconductor chip crisis, BMW Manufacturing managed to set a new production record, building 433,810 X models in 2021. Of those vehicles, 179,840 were sold in the United States, totaling 53.4% of the brand's sales. The X3 and X5 led the charge as the top two models.
But record-high production figures aren't the only milestone the plant achieved last year, with three models receiving J.D. Power Awards for Initial Quality Study (IQS) and Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL). What's more, the facility also began production of the LCI X3, X3 M, X4, and X4 M models.
High on success, Spartanburg will also begin production of the BMW XM later this year, an important car for the brand with the newcomer being the first electrified vehicle in the M portfolio. Lastly, a new logistics center and technician training center will both open in 2022.
"Claiming the top spot for US automobile exports by value rounds out a very successful year for Plant Spartanburg. I'm incredibly proud of our associates and the resilience they have shown the past year. This achievement demonstrates BMW's trusted partnership with this state and its continued commitment to the United States," said president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Dr. Robert Engelhorn.
The South Carolina plant is the biggest BMW Group manufacturing facility in the world, capable of producing an astonishing 1,500 vehicles per day. The brand's success will likely grow from strength to strength, as the facelifted X5 and X5 M models have already been spotted testing. With more technology and refinement, the regular model will be refreshed to take on the upcoming Range Rover Sport which, interestingly, will also use BMW V8 engines.