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BMW breaks ground on $700M Woodruff plant

Krys Merryman //June 27, 2023//

BMW breaks ground on $700M Woodruff plant

Krys Merryman //June 27, 2023//

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The more than 1-million-square-foot Plant Woodruff will be located on 315 acres near the city center and will include a technology building and support buildings such as a cafeteria, fire department, and energy center. (Rendering/Provided)

The BMW Group took a crucial step toward building electric vehicles as the company broke ground on Tuesday for a new high-voltage battery assembly plant in Woodruff — its second plant in the Upstate.

BMW Plant Woodruff will produce sixth-generation batteries to supply fully electric BMW X Models at Plant Spartanburg.

In October, BMW Group Chairman Oliver Zipse announced a new $1.7 billion investment in its U.S. operations, including $1 billion to prepare Plant Spartanburg to produce fully electric vehicles, and $700 million to build the new Woodruff facility. The more than 1-million-square-foot Plant Woodruff will be located on 315 acres near the city center and will include a technology building and support buildings such as a cafeteria, fire department, and energy center.

More than 300 jobs will be created onsite at Plant Woodruff with the opportunity for more growth.

“We are ready for the future,” said city of Woodruff Mayor Kenneth Gist. “BMW has been a great partner for the entire Upstate for decades. And now, we will be your partner as you carry this dream for this plant into the future.”

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The BMW Group’s philosophy of promoting sustainability in all its facilities will also be exemplified at the Woodruff plant. This played a role in the building’s design and use of equipment, according to a news release. Some of the innovations include how the plant will be operated without fossil fuels and will use 100% green electricity. In addition, CO2 emissions per vehicle across the lifecycle will fall by 40% by 2030; smart LED lighting; significant reduction in water consumption at the plant, with the addition of harvesting and utilizing rainwater; and use of highly efficient “smart” motors from Turntide, a BMW iVentures partner, to reduce energy consumption by as much as 40% in HVAC systems.

“We’re making the BMW Group electric,” said Ilka Horstmeier, member of the board of management of BMW AG. “Our new battery assembly plant in Woodruff will soon play an important role in our electric future here in the USA. Through the Woodruff plant, we expand our footprint in the state of South Carolina. At the same time, we are taking our associates with us in this transformation.”

Preparing future employees

The new technical training center at the Spartanburg plant will play a critical role for electric vehicle training, and the Woodruff facility will have several sustainability innovations, by preparing its 11,000 employees for BMW’s future, said Horstmeier.

“In this way, we are taking responsibility as a reliable employer and offer future-proof jobs at the same time,” Horstmeier said.

The new BMW Technical Training Center, which opened in October, will prepare employees to build the fully electric vehicles. Plant Spartanburg currently produces three plug-in hybrids — the BMW X3 xDrive30e, BMW X5 xDrive50e, and the BMW XM, which led to several hundred employees already trained in the manufacturing of these electric vehicles. The technical training center will be at the core of all electric vehicle training for North and South America.

“Our job is to put together a toolbox for our associates that will be the foundation for a full and satisfying career at BMW,” said Sherry McCraw, VP of human resources. “We must capitalize on our team’s existing skill sets, support them with the appropriate training, and ensure they are well-equipped for the EV journey ahead.”

Building a legacy

This groundbreaking is the start of a new era for Plant Spartanburg as the group prepares to produce fully electric BMW X Models for the world, said Robert Engelhorn, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing.

BMW Group celebrates the groundbreaking of its Plant Woodruff facility on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, with government officials. (Photo/Krys Merryman)“The road to the future begins here in Woodruff as we build on our legacy of producing high-quality vehicles right here in the U.S.,” said Engelhorn. “Plant Woodruff will be state-of-the-art in terms of sustainability, flexibility, and digitalization.”

As part of the BMW Group’s “local for local” approach, the company will purchase battery cells for its electric vehicles from partner AESC, which is building a new 30 GWh battery cell factory in Florence, with BMW as its first customer, according to the release.

AESC broke ground for its new $800 million plant on June 7, and it will produce newly developed round lithium-ion battery cells, specifically designed for the sixth generation of BMW eDrive technology. The new battery format will increase energy density by more than 20% and improve charging speed and range by up to 30%, the release said. At the same time, CO2 emissions from cell production will be reduced by up to 60% through the partial use of secondary lithium, cobalt, and nickel material, as well as renewable energy for production.

Battery cells produced at the Florence AESC facility will be shipped to Plant Woodruff. By 2030, Plant Spartanburg will build at least six fully electric BMWs, the release said.

Plant Woodruff showcases that South Carolina is a leader in the EV industry, said South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster, and furthers the state’s reputation as an “automotive powerhouse.”

“We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with BMW as they continue to help move South Carolina forward,” he added.

Since 1992, the BMW Group has invested nearly $12.4 billion in its South Carolina operations. BMW Manufacturing is the largest BMW Group plant in the world, producing more than 1,500 vehicles per day. Plant Spartanburg has an annual production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles.