BMW Manufacturing Opens State-of-the-Art Press Shop in Spartanburg, Unveils Fourth-Generation BMW X3

Workers in a manufacturing plant moving a large piece of equipment.

Celebrating its 30th anniversary of assembling BMWs for the world, BMW Manufacturing has opened its state-of-the-art press shop as it prepares to assemble the new BMW X3 Sports Activity Vehicle at the Spartanburg plant.

The press shop will stamp sheet metal parts for the new BMW X3, which made its North American debut during the ceremony. These components include hang-on parts such as the vehicle’s four doors, fenders, lift gate, and exterior body sides.

Dr. Milan Nedeljković, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Production, emphasized the BMW Group’s commitment in the United States: “After 30 years of successful operations, we are further expanding our commitment. At the end of 2026, assembly of all-electric Sports Activity Vehicles will start here in Spartanburg. This is a further step towards strengthening our global resilience.”

By 2030, the BMW Group will assemble at least six fully electric models in the U.S. The high-voltage batteries for the future BEVs from Spartanburg will come from nearby Woodruff, where the BMW Group is currently building an assembly plant for sixth-generation batteries. The opening of the press shop also contributes to strengthening the U.S. footprint.

“The advanced stamping processes on our new press line will ensure the highest quality, efficiency, and consistency in body shop parts for our customers,” said Dr. Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. “Having this press shop onsite fits the BMW Group’s local-for-local strategy where we produce major parts at the location where we need them.”

The BMW Group invested more than $200 million to construct the 219,000-square-foot press shop. It took 24 months from site work preparation to stamping the first part on the press line. The investment also included more than 200 new jobs in careers such as tool and die technicians as well as electrical and mechanical maintenance for automated machinery. Dozens of Plant Spartanburg associates trained at BMW Group press shops in Swindon in the UK and Leipzig in Germany.

“Since establishing roots in South Carolina 30 years ago, BMW has transformed our state into an automotive powerhouse,” said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “Today, we proudly celebrate yet another milestone with the opening of BMW’s first North American press shop, and we look forward to their continued success in the years to come.”

During the ceremony, Dr. Robert Engelhorn and Randy Watson, regional vice president of the Southern Region for BMW of North America, introduced the fourth-generation BMW X3 to the audience. The BMW X3 is one of the company’s best-selling vehicles in the United States and worldwide. Plant Spartanburg associates have assembled more than 1.7 million BMW X3s since the model joined the plant’s lineup in 2010. The new BMW X3 will go on sale in the fall of 2024.

Also making its debut was the Silver Anniversary Edition of the BMW X5. This special adventure-themed Sports Activity Vehicle will be assembled in limited quantities for the U.S market exclusively with sales beginning this fall. This edition celebrates 25 years since the very first BMW X5 was assembled at Plant Spartanburg in 1999. This model created the segment of Sports Activity Vehicles and laid the foundation for a tremendous global success with nearly three million BMW X5 vehicles assembled since then.

Inside the New High-Tech Press Shop

The press shop marks the beginning of the automotive production process. Large steel coils are unloaded from trucks using a large overhead crane inside the shop. The steel coils are then fed into the Coil Line, where the steel is cut into individual “blanks” (rectangular cutoffs or special shapes) at up to 70 strokes per minute. These blanks are then ready to be fed into the Press Line.

The Press Line consists of five press (stamping) stations. The line is equipped with servo technology, which enables BMW to significantly increase the output performance of the presses.  An overhead crane moves the correct press tool (die) into each station. The blank is fed into the first press station and transferred from one station to the next by a robot-like automation technology, referred to as the “crossbar feeder,” for additional forming and trimming operations. The line can run up to 18 strokes per minute, which means up to 10,000 parts can be stamped each day, depending on the size of each part.

After the parts are stamped, they go to quality control for inspection; quality inspectors use special lighting that mimics natural daylight. Parts are then stacked into racks ready for delivery to the body shop production line.

Underneath both the press and coil lines are areas that collect the scrap metal gathered after the parts are stamped. As much as 50 tons of scrap are accumulated each day at full volume; a long conveyor moves the scrap, and it is loaded onto 53-foot trailers. All this material is taken off-site to be recycled.

This year, BMW Manufacturing celebrates 30 years of assembling BMWs in South Carolina, with more than 6.7 million BMWs assembled during the three decades. The Spartanburg factory employs more than 11,000 people to assemble the X3, X5, X7 and XM Sports Activity Vehicles and the X4 and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The 1,150-acre, 8-million-square-foot campus includes three body shops with more than 2,600 robots, two paint shops, and two assembly halls. The plant generates about 20 percent of its own power from methane gas and uses hydrogen fuel cell technology to power about 800 pieces of material handling equipment. The BMW Group announced in 2022 that it would invest $1.7 billion in its U.S. operations, including $1 billion to prepare the Spartanburg plant to assemble fully electric vehicles and $700 million to build a new high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff.

When completed in 2026, Plant Woodruff will assemble the sixth-generation batteries to supply fully electric vehicles at BMW Manufacturing. By 2030, the BMW Group will assemble at least six fully electric models in the U.S.

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Written by BMW Group.