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By Bob Montgomery, Staff Writer
BMW Manufacturing on Wednesday laid claim to being the nation's top automobile exporter by value in 2016, due to its U.S. manufacturing plant in Spartanburg County.
In a statement, the company said 287,700 X models from the Greer plant were exported last year, and that about 86 percent of the sports activity vehicles and coupes were exported through the Port of Charleston, with an estimated value of $9.53 billion.
It's the third straight year BMW has been the nation's top vehicle exporter in value, a BMW spokesman said.
It based its claim on numbers from the S.C. Department of Commerce and the S.C. Ports Authority, which ranks South Carolina first nationwide in vehicle export value at $9.53 billion, followed by Alabama, $7.8 billion; California, $5.8 billion; and Michigan, $5.6 billion.
BMW is the only automaker in South Carolina that exports its vehicles through Charleston.
“We had a record-breaking production and export year in 2016, and these new export figures reinforce BMW’s commitment to South Carolina and the United States,” Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing, said in a statement.
The other 14 percent of BMW X models were exported through five southeastern ports: Savannah, Ga.; Brunswick, Ga.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Miami, Fla.; and Everglades, Fla.
All total, the Greer plant exported 70 percent of its total production volume of 411,171 units in 2016, the company stated.
BMW Manufacturing is in the second phase of a $1 billion expansion that includes construction of a new 1.2 million-square-foot body shop with robots and special tooling. Also, 200,000 square feet is being added to the X5/X6 Assembly Hall, where the BMW X7 also will be built.
“There’s no overstating the value BMW has brought to South Carolina since opening its doors in Spartanburg County over 20 years ago,” Gov. Henry McMaster stated Wednesday. “The fact that the same facility that represented such a commitment to our state now is the leading automotive exporter in the country is something that all South Carolina should be proud of.”