BMW announces leadership changes in Upstate

FILE PHOTO: A BMW  employee works on the underbody of a BMW X5 inside the BMW Manufacturing Company in Greer.
FILE PHOTO: A BMW employee works on the underbody of a BMW X5 inside the BMW Manufacturing Company in Greer.

BMW announced Wednesday a change in leadership at its assembly plant in Greer.

The automaker said Manfred Erlacher, managing director of its Leipzig plant in Saxony, Germany, will take over as president of BMW Manufacturing Co., effective Nov. 1.

Josef Kerscher, head of the Upstate plant since 2007, moves to BMW’s Dingolfing plant in Bavaria, Germany, as managing director.

It amounts to a promotion for both men in BMW’s global manufacturing universe.

The company said earlier in its annual report that BMW Manufacturing Co. ranked No. 2 among its assembly plants in vehicle production with 301,500 units in 2012, behind only the Dingolfing plant, which made 332,700 vehicles last year.

Much of BMW Manufacturing Co.’s explosive growth has come under Kerscher’s watch. The plant has more than tripled output since he succeeded Clemens Schmitz-Justen, from a production capacity of 105,000 vehicles in 2006, with a $900 million expansion almost complete that will take capacity up to 350,000 vehicles in 2014.

That’s when the company will roll out an entirely new vehicle — the X4 sports activity coupe. BMW Manufacturing is also home to the company’s X5, X6 and X3 vehicles.

The Upstate plant currently employs more than 7,000.

Harald Kruger, a BMW board member who is responsible for global production, said the Upstate plant “has an impressive development history and its 70 percent export ratio plays an important role in balancing BMW business growth among Europe, America and Asia.”

Erlacher, an engineer, led both assembly and body shop operations at the company’s Munich plant before succeeding Kerscher there in 2007.

He then became managing director of the Leipzig plant in January 2009, taking the plant through an expansion as it launched two new models, the i3 and i8.

The Dingolfing plant employs 18,600 and manufactures BMW 5, 6 and 7 Series vehicles as well as the M5 and M6. Its workers also handcraft body shells for the Rolls-Royce Phantom.

Workers there also make chassis components and systems for all BMW assembly plants, with Dingolfing also the focal point for the global supply of parts to dealers in more than 130 countries.