BMW on Wednesday announced a major investment in its U.S. plant to prepare it for production of electric vehicles.
The automaker said it will spend $1 billion on its plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, to prepare the site for EVs, plus a further $700 million to build a new battery plant in nearby Woodruff, South Carolina, and hire 300 workers.
The Spartanburg plant is BMW's biggest in the world, with a total 433,810 vehicles rolling off the line in 2021. It produces the X3, X4, X5, X6, and X7 lines, including hybrid versions of some of those vehicles, and will soon add production of the new 2023 XM high-performance hybrid SUV.
BMW said at least six EVs will be built at the Spartanburg plant by 2030. Most of these will likely be electric versions of the existing SUV lines.
BMW assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The battery plant in Woodruff will be operated in partnership with Envision AESC. The battery supplier was founded as AESC in 2007 by Nissan and fellow Japanese companies NEC and Tokin, though Nissan sold off its controlling stake to China's Envision Group in 2018.
The plant will have a capacity of up to 30 gwh and initially produce BMW's new sixth-generation battery, which features cylindrical cells. The design provides packaging advantages over current prismatic cell designs and as a result improved density and performance. BMW quotes an increase in energy density of more than 20%, improved charging speed by up to 30%, and enhanced range by up to 30%.
BMW with its partners also plans four additional battery plants in Europe and China. Each of the plants will have a capacity of more than 20 gwh.
BMW's announcement is the latest of several recent multibillion-dollar investments in U.S. EV production following the passing of legislation that encourages domestic production, specifically the Inflation Reduction Act and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. With these policies, automakers are able to avoid tariffs or qualify for financial incentives by producing domestically.