BMW AG announced plans this week for a more than $250 million manufacturing plant to build 300 cars per day in a deal that would make it the only European carmaker with a plant in the United States.
The facility will represent an initial investment of $250 million to $300 million. Employment will build gradually to about 2,000 people by the end of the decade, the firm said.Eberhard von Kuenheim, chairman of the board of BMW AG, made the announcement in a telecast broadcast live from Munich to a news conference.
Von Kuenheim said the site near the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport on Interstate 85 and the state of South Carolina, fulfill BMW's requirements.
"Today, BMW and South Carolina are rightfully at center stage in the global economy," he said.
Preparation of the 900-acre site in the northwestern part of the state for the planned 1.9-million square-foot facility will begin in July, with the first car planned to be built in 1995.
BMW said it will build 300 cars per day at the plant of a different model than those made in Europe, but officials declined to give details.
The model will be sold in the United States and exported worldwide, which it said will help the U.S. trade balance, especially with Europe, which is America's best customer.
BMW said it decided to build in the United States because the United States is the largest, most competitive and dynamic consumer market in the world. It said its objective is to expand and strengthen its position as an importer and customer of U.S. technology.
BMW said the research for the decision started three years ago with the evaluation of more than 250 different locations in Germany, Europe and the rest of the world. The list was narrowed to a handful of locations and then to two states, Nebraska and South Carolina.
It said the most critical factor was how the infrastructure would support BMW's business strategy. BMW cited air, sea, rail and highway transportation; reliable utilities and support for the communications technology required to integrate the new facility into its international production, supply and distribution network.
BMW said it plans to use a high level of domestic content in the cars produced in South Carolina, so it expects the U.S. facility will attract many suppliers and other economic activity to the area.
BMW will be the only European auto firm with a plan in the United States, following the 1987 closure of the Volkswagen plant in Westmoreland, Pa.