BMW's Southern Strategy Pays Off For All Involved

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
bmw s southern strategy pays off for all involved

Twenty years ago, BMW began building vehicles at its first North American factory in Spartanburg, S.C., a move that has paid off well for the German automaker, both against its rivals Mercedes and Audi, and as an example for the industry as a whole.

Bloomberg reports the factory is the largest exporter of U.S.-made vehicles to global markets outside of North America, besting the Detroit Three and the state of Michigan’s collective automotive production efforts as its capacity prepares to jump 50 percent to 450,000 annually as the latest member of the X Series, the full-size seven-passenger X7, comes into production.

The success of the Spartanburg facility is built upon lower labor costs — U.S. labor is 47 percent cheaper than German labor — its work flexibility, and its access to the port of Charleston, I-85 and GSP International Airport. An additional inland port in Greer, S.C., new production techniques — such as using robots and humans on the same assembly step — and massive export increases as the result of an upcoming free-trade agreement between the United States and the European Union will likely add more fuel to the plant’s continued success.

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  • Haroldingpatrick Haroldingpatrick on Jul 14, 2014

    I live less than 10 miles from the factory and folks around here love BMW. There days of the middle class "job" are over except for places like BMW in our country and never existed down here to begin with - ask anyone who worked in a textile factory. I hear they run a tight ship, as they should. Average people in SC are astounded by what unionized labor makes up north. Many people with real trades and professions or a small family business feel the same as they work hard with real responsibility and make the same or less than a guy with a union "job" up north, hence one of the reasons for support of the GOP by even poor people down here. Cost of living is not bad as far as housing prices, but be prepared to buy your way into the right school district or shell out for private school at 10-20K/yr per kid. The Old South Establishment has always educated their children privately so you will never see SC schools be great across the board. They are funded by local property taxes, so wealthy school districts have much better schools in general. You see a lot of new BMW's leased by employees parked by mobile homes here too. Many people with "jobs" in SC simply cannot afford stick built middle class housing in a good school district. The mobile homes are a step up from the shacks/cabins of old, so remember that when you pass comment on southerners. A poor but proud people.

    • See 1 previous
    • Beelzebubba Beelzebubba on Jul 14, 2014

      @MrGrieves The Honda factory in Alabama also builds the Acura MDX starting with the 2014 model year!

  • Bufguy Bufguy on Jul 14, 2014

    I've never owned an "American" car yet the vast majority of the "foreign" cars I've owned have been built in the US. My 1986 and 88 GTIs were built in Pennsylvania, my 2 Honda Elements were built in Ohio and my BMW Z4 was built in South Carolina

  • Bugmen0t Bugmen0t on Jul 14, 2014

    BMW's "Southern Strategy" is paying handsomely for the parent company's executives, but not so much for its workers. VW line workers, for a comparable example, earn over $67/hour in Germany, less than $20/hour in the US (That's $135,000/year, vs $40,000). Not only that, but in Germany all workers get a month off with full pay every year, another several weeks of floating holidays, and cheap universal healthcare. And with all of that, Germany's unemployment rate is far lower than ours. American workers have no idea how lousy a deal we really have, compared with workers in the civilized world.

    • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Jul 15, 2014

      And the American workers in those positions are glad to have the work and decent paycheck compared to the other local options.

  • BMW Greensboro BMW Greensboro on Aug 15, 2014

    are they still making bmws spartanburg sc?