Quick quiz: By value, which automaker exports the most from the US? You'd probably guessor , possibly even , since the Detroit Three are our hometown manufacturers and have been around for ages. But would you be surprised to learn this title actually belongs to ?
Probably not if you, er, read the headline, but it's true. According to data from the US Department of Commerce released by BMW last week, the legendary Bavarian maker of luxury vehicles led the country is automotive exports by value… for the eighth consecutive year. In 2021, BMW exported nearly 258,000 vehicles from its manufacturing plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, a facility that's been cranking out automobiles for nearly three decades. The value of the SUVs produced there exceeded $10.1 billion in 2021, a significant chunk of change.
Spartanburg is where BMW assembles the X3,, X5, and utility vehicles. Last year, the factory, which employs more than 11,000 people, set a new production record, assembling 433,810 vehicles, a 20% increase over the previous year. This is only the fourth time it's crested the 400,000 mark. Of that total, nearly 180,000 X vehicles were sold in the US in 2021, representing 53.4% of all BMWs delivered here. Among 'Murican drivers, the and models were the brand's most popular nameplates.
If BMW needed to increase production in Spartanburg, the factory has the capacity to build up to 450,000 vehicles annually when pushed to the max, meaning there's a little bit of wiggle room if demand spikes, but not much.
As for export markets, Bimmers built in South Carolina travel all around the world. The top five countries they're shipped to are China, Germany (!), South Korea, Canada and the UK.
"I'm incredibly proud of our associates and the resilience they have shown the past year," said Robert Engelhorn, CEO of BMW Manufacturing in a release shared by the automaker. "This achievement demonstrates BMW's trusted partnership with this state and its continued commitment to the United States."