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BMW exec says company ‘considering’ expansion at Greer


Staff Report
gsanews@scbiznews.com
Published March 19, 2014

A top BMW Group executive in Germany said today that the automaker is “considering increasing” capacity at the plant in Greer. On the heels of a $900 million expansion and the start of production of a new X4 model this spring, a “significant economic and product announcement” is set March 28 at BMW Manufacturing Co.

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Friedrich Eichiner, a member of the board of management of BMW A.G. Finance, did not provide any details about the announcement event that is scheduled to include BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

Eichiner, in predicting global sales growth and production plans, said the plant at Greer manufactures most of BMW’s sports activity vehicles — the X3, X5 and X6 — and has built around 2.5 million of them since the plant started production in 1994.

“We are also considering increasing the plant’s capacity,” Eichiner said. “Located in the world’s largest premium market, it is a decisive factor in the success of the BMW Group.” The plant plans to increase production to 350,000 vehicles this year, up from about 300,000 in 2013.

With more than 7,000 employees and another 1,000 being hired as part of the most recent expansion, the plant’s production in 2013 included 12,892 of the X3 model, 12,200 of the X5s and 2,089 X6s. The plant has 170 suppliers in North America, including 40 in South Carolina.

BMW, since opening the plant, has announced expansions in Greer every two to three years.

A BMW representative has said the announcement is not for a new engine plant.

Eichiner also said BMW in 2013 “was able to consolidate its global position, despite a challenging market environment in Europe. Outside of Europe, however, the BMW Group reported strong sales gains: For the first time, we delivered more than half a million vehicles in Asia in one year — almost 580,000 units. Sales also increased in the Americas — and the U.S., in particular — to more than 463,000 premium vehicles. This sales success underscores our strategy of balanced growth worldwide.”

He said the automaker globally is “gearing our production network towards higher total capacity and an expanded model lineup.”

Eichiner said that “assuming economic conditions remain stable, group profit before tax is expected to be significantly up on the previous year’s figure. As long as economic conditions remain consistent, we anticipate a significant rise in deliveries to a new high level. Our planning is based on a steady recovery in the European markets, as forecast, with significant growth in markets outside of Europe, including high single-digit growth in North America and low double-digit growth in China.”