Manufacturing

BMW repeats as largest U.S. automotive exporter by volume

BMW exports its X models via ship at numerous ports throughout the southeastern U.S.

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW is technically a German automaker, but much of its lineup is made in the U.S. The company has once again been named the largest U.S. automotive exporter by volume

BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is the home to most BMW SUVs. In 2019, Plant Spartanburg exported 246,014 BMW X Models with a total export value of approximately $9.6 billion according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Most of the SUVs all left the country via ports in Savannah, Georgia; Brunswick, Georgia; Jacksonville, Florida; Miami, Florida; and Everglades, Florida. Additionally, 18,000 were exported via rail.

BMW X3 M40i The BMW X3 M40i is just one of the models the automaker produces I South Carolina.Photo courtesy of BMW

"Every day, the Plant Spartanburg team produces five top-selling BMW X models, four Motorsport X models and two plug-in hybrid X models sold in more than 125 countries around the world," said Knudt Flor, president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing. "In addition to being the largest U.S. automotive exporter by value, our plant continues to be the largest facility in BMW's global production network. These achievements are significant and clearly reinforce BMW's ongoing commitment in the United States."

In 2019, BMW Manufacturing produced a record 411,620 BMW X Models. They also launched a number of SUVs including:

  • (April) Launch of the first-ever BMW X3 M and BMW X4 M
  • (August) Launch of the third-generation BMW X6
  • (August) Launch of BMW X5 xDrive45e (second generation plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)
  • (December) Launch of first-ever BMW X3 xDrive30e (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle)
  • (December) Launch of the third-generation BMW X5 M and BMW X6 M
  • First full production year for the first-ever BMW X7.

"For more than 25 years, S.C. Ports Authority has had a strong partnership with BMW Manufacturing," said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of S.C. Ports Authority. "Our Inland Port Greer operation brings vehicles from the Upstate to the Lowcountry via rail, and the Port of Charleston enables BMW to export 70% of its South Carolina-made vehicles to more than 125 countries. The automotive manufacturing sector is a vital part of our state's economy. We are proud to support the shipping needs of the automotive industry, and we look forward to future success and growth for BMW."

From 2010 – 2019, BMW Group Plant Spartanburg exported 2,285,285 vehicles out of 3,335,871 total vehicles produced. This means nearly 70 percent of the plant's total production was exported during the decade. Later in 2020, the plant will celebrate a significant production milestone as it produces the five millionth BMW built in South Carolina.

BMW Group Plant Spartanburg produces more than 1,500 vehicles each day and has an annual capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles. The factory employs more than 11,000 people.

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The Bronze Edition model builds on the XLE trim.

Toyota

The Toyota Highlander entered its fourth generation for the 2020 model year, which brought sleek style, updated tech, and a premium-look interior. A new XSE trim joined the lineup for 2021, and for 2022, Toyota is adding a new hybrid-only Bronze Edition trim.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition adds useful features, such as a hands-free power liftgate.toyota

The new Bronze Edition Highlander builds on the XLE trim with:

  • Rain-sensing wipers
  • Digital rearview mirror
  • Ambient interior lighting
  • Memory driver's seat with 10-way power adjustments
  • Hands-free power liftgate

Toyota notes that the Bronze Edition previews features that will show up with the greater 2022 Highlander release. Among them are the new Wind Chill Pearl color, which replaces Blizzard Pearl from the previous model, and height/tilt passenger seat adjustments.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Highlander is a supremely comfortable SUV with room for the family.Toyota

The Highlander carries on into 2022 with a standard 3.5-liter V6 that makes 295 horsepower and 263 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission and either front- or all-wheel drive. A Highlander Hybrid is available, which mates a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with two electric motors. Combined system output is 243 horsepower. With the V6 on board, the Highlander can tow up to 5,000 pounds.

2022 Toyota Highlander Bronze Edition The Bronze Edition is available for Highlander Hybrid models.Toyota

All 2022 Highlander models get Toyota Safety Sense 2.5+, which includes a pre-collision system with pedestrian detection, road sign assist, full-speed adaptive cruise control, lane departure alerts, lane tracing assist, a sway warning system, and automatic high beams. Those features and the Highlander's excellent crash testing scores were good enough for the SUV to earn a Top Safety Pick + designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

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Buying guide

How to buy a modified car: Three tips

This is a clean modified truck, but they don't all end up this way.

Bring a Trailer

Modified cars are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they're incredibly well built and better than the original, but too many times they're only partially finished or end up being rushed as their owners get late-project anxiety. Whatever the case, buying a modified car can be a stressful process if you haven't done your homework ahead of time. The good news is that you can get a good deal on a reasonably well sorted project or modified car, but you'll need to be careful. Looking at used Lexus LXs earlier today, it became clear that there are as many modified vehicles for sale as there are clean examples.

This LX got me thinking about the breakdown between buying a rig and building one. The modifications made by this Lexus' seller are almost exactly what I would do if I were building a light overlanding rig. What could go wrong? I'm still on the fence about the Lexus, but the three topics below will help you make the right decision on buying a modified car.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Even if the mods are well done, you'll want to have the vehicle inspected before you buy.Bring a Trailer

Understand your personal taste

I mentioned the LX470 and how the owner's updates were pretty close to what I'd do with the truck. That's an exception to the rule, because 90 percent of the time I walking away from a sales listing because of modifications, rather than the other way around. If you're hoping to find a tastefully modified car that matches your exact tastes, you could be waiting a while. If you're hoping to sell a modified car, the same is true in reverse. Finding a buyer for your extremely personalized project car may not be the easiest thing you've ever done.

2004 Lexus LX 470 It's a good idea to seek out vehicles in solid shape, regardless of mods.Bring a Trailer

Be aware of condition and quality

This Lexus looks to be well maintained and in good shape. It also doesn't hurt that the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles built by one of the world's most quality-conscious automakers. Even so, it's hard to know what you're getting with this, or any other, modified vehicle. There's a little rust in this image, but the lift kit, wheels, and bumper mods all look good. However, even if the truck looked brand-new, you'd want to get a pre-purchase inspection. An independent mechanic can tell you if there are potential issues that are unrelated to mods, and you'll want to be sure that any modifications are installed properly.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Some mods are more useful than others.Bring a Trailer

Keep an eye on the price

Most people are reasonable when it comes to selling their modified cars, but there are hundreds of "I know what I got" memes on the internet for a reason. Some sellers want to recover every penny of the money they spent customizing their cars. They're convinced that the mods drastically increased the car's value and can't understand why the customized car isn't as attractive to you as it is to them. Tread lightly and be careful not to insult the owner, but it's your job to work toward a reasonable, fair price.

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