BMW is celebrating a significant milestone: the German company has built six million cars in the United States since opening its factory in Spartanburg, S.C., in 1994. The milestone car is an eye-catching X6 M that was sent directly to the firm's historic collection.
BMW made the announcement exactly 30 years after it broke ground to build the facility, its first in the United States. Since then, the company notes it has invested nearly $12 billion into the plant and that it exports about 60% of Spartanburg-built cars to 120 global markets.
While reaching the six-million mark in under 30 years is impressive, what's even more stunning is how quickly BMW increased the plant's output. The millionth Spartanburg-built BMW (a Z4 M Roadster) was built in February 2006, so approximately 12 years after the facility opened. The two-millionth car (an X3) rolled off the assembly line in January 2012, the three-millionth (an X5 M) was made in March 2015, and the five-millionth (an X5 M Competition) was finished in June 2020. It took a little over two years for BMW to build a million cars.
Notice a pattern? Most of the milestone cars are SUVs, which is what the Spartanburg plant has specialized in for several years, and they're what sell particularly well. It's not a coincidence that the sixth-millionth BMW with a "made in the United States" label is an X6 M painted in Java Green Metallic and powered by a twin-turbocharged, 4.4-liter V8 rated at 600 horsepower. It's equipped with a black leather interior.
But it certainly wasn't always BMW SUVs coming out of the plant. The first South Carolina-built BMW was an E36-generation 318i, a car that predated the brand's first SUV, the X5.