BMW is expanding its export program to emerging markets and moving its operations closer to the new inland port being built in Greer.
The company said Wednesday it also will expand the program to include the new BMW X5. The program originally was announced in 2011 to support export of the X3 Sports Activity Vehicle, BMW said in a release.
It was unclear Wednesday how many more jobs the expansion could create. BMW’s partner syncreonwill handle hiring, a BMW spokeswoman said. Efforts to reach syncreon for a job estimate Wednesday were unsuccessful.
BMW will move its export operations to a new 413,000-square-foot building adjacent to the S.C. Inland Port. When completed later this year, the inland port will ship products from the region to the Port of Charleston by rail. The new facility is nearly triple the size of BMW’s current export facility in Duncan and has the potential to be expanded to 750,000 square feet. The company expects to make its first shipment from the new location in January.
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Using the rail system to ship sea containers allows BMW to re-use containers originally used to ship parts to the plant, reduces interstate traffic from Greer to Charleston and avoids the return of empty containers, the company said.
The program should take about 9,000 trucks – or about two dozen a day – off the interstates running through Columbia next year.
“Our export program enables BMW to invest in new markets where we see potential for future growth,” Josef Kerscher, president of BMW Manufacturing Co., said in a release. “Since 2011, demand for the X3 from emerging markets has nearly doubled, and we believe the X5 will follow this trend.”
BMW will continue to partner with syncreon, which will manage the company’s warehousing and logistics operation, preparing shipments of parts and components to markets including Russia, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Egypt, the release said.
BMW began production of the third-generation X5 Aug. 1. It has produced more than 2.5 million BMW X5s since 1994. Seventy percent of BMW’s Greer-produced vehicles are exported, going to 140 markets worldwide.
BMW in the midst of a $900 million expansion in Greer that will add 1.6 million square feet of production and logistics space.