The BMW Group has taken a significant stride toward the production of electric vehicles in the United States with the groundbreaking of the first ever US BMW battery plant in Woodruff, South Carolina. Plant Woodruff will be a state-of-the-art facility designed from the ground-up to manufacture sixth-generation batteries to supply fully electric vehicles at the nearby BMW Manufacturing plant in Spartanburg. Could this eventually build batteries for MINIs assembled in the US?
The construction of Plant Woodruff is part of BMW’s wider investment in its U.S. operations, which Chairman Oliver Zipse announced in October last year. The company pledged a total of $1.7 billion for its American facilities, with $1 billion allocated to prepare Plant Spartanburg for the production of fully electric vehicles and $700 million dedicated to constructing the high-voltage battery assembly plant. This significant investment makes it clear BMW’s commitment to the United States as a key market for electric vehicles and also paves the way for electric vehicle production in the US. The latter will unlock the new federal tax credits for electric BMW buyers – something that currently isn’t available on any BMW vehicle.
Right now BMW builds its X line of crossover vehicles in Spartanburg and 2 and 3 series in it’s the new Plant San Luis Potosi. While both plants are centered around BMW’s rear wheel drive based CLAAR architecture and not the front wheel drive based platforms that MIIN uses, a unified EV architecture could be a game changer. This could be especially true of the Countryman and any future derivatives as it will effectively be twinned with future X1 and X2 EVs.
The Woodruff facility, situated on 315 acres near the city, will encompass over one million square feet, including a technology building and support structures like a cafeteria, fire department, and energy center. With the establishment of Plant Woodruff, more than 300 jobs will be created onsite, and there is potential for further job growth as BMW expands its presence in South Carolina. The new battery assembly plant will not only boost the local economy but also contribute to the state’s reputation as a leader in the electric vehicle industry.
The importance of this development was emphasized by Ilka Horstmeier, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Human Resources and Real Estate, who stated, “We’re making the BMW Group electric. Our new battery assembly plant in Woodruff will soon play an important role in our electric future here in the USA.” Horstmeier also highlighted the company’s commitment to its employees, mentioning the new Technical Training Center at the Spartanburg plant, which will prepare the 11,000 associates for the future, ensuring that they possess the necessary skills to thrive in the electric vehicle era.
Dr. Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing, hailed the groundbreaking ceremony as the start of a new era at Plant Spartanburg, as it gears up to produce fully electric BMW X models for the global market. Dr. Engelhorn expressed his confidence in Plant Woodruff, emphasizing that it will be a state-of-the-art facility that prioritizes sustainability, flexibility, and digitalization.
In line with its “local for local” principle, BMW will purchase battery cells for its electric vehicles from AESC, a partner company building a new 30 GWh battery cell factory in Florence, South Carolina. The Woodruff plant will receive the battery cells from AESC, utilizing them to manufacture batteries for the fully electric BMW X models produced at Plant Spartanburg. This collaboration between BMW and AESC strengthens the local supply chain and supports the growth of the EV industry in South Carolina.
The batteries produced by Plant Woodruff will be powered by green electricity, as the facility will operate without the use of fossil fuels. In addition, BMW aims to reduce CO2 emissions per vehicle across its lifecycle by 40 percent by 2030. The commitment to sustainability is also evident in the building design and equipment choices for the Woodruff plant. The facility is designed to support the installation of a rooftop solar photovoltaic system, showcasing BMW’s readiness to embrace renewable energy sources. The use of smart LED lighting, occupancy sensors, and highly efficient electrical motors further contributes to reducing energy consumption and promoting sustainability.