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 M40iThe 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 Supra finally gets a manual transmission for 2023.

Toyota

After an almost nonstop chorus of enthusiasts and journalists asking for a manual transmission in the new Supra, Toyota has gone and done it. The car will get an available six-speed manual transmission that will be available on both variants of the GR Supra 3.0, plus a limited-edition model on the U.S. market next year.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTToyota had to modify the car's interior for the new gearbox. Toyota

The A91-MT Edition Supra will be limited to 500 units, and gets two exterior colors with an exclusive Cognac leather interior. All 2023 Supras come with a 3.0-liter straight-six engine that makes 382 horsepower and 367 pound-feet of torque. Toyota says the six-speed manual has been specially tuned to work with the car's engine, and notes that it modified an existing transmission housing to come up with the design. The gearbox's final drive ratio is shortened to improve response and take-off.

Toyota had to modify the car's interior to accommodate a gearshift lever, so the iDrive controller and other buttons had to be relocated. The automaker says that it focused on the feeling of shifting, from the weight of the knob to the ergonomics and location of the component.

2023 Toyota Supra 3.0 MTThe limited-edition A91-MT trim gets an exclusive cognac leather interior.Toyota

A Supra with a manual gearbox is reason to celebrate, but availability is limited to the top Supra 3.0. The "base" Supra 2.0 won't get the transmission. Toyota says pricing and other information will be available later this year.

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New performance sedan

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 on the way with F1 tech

The new C 43 gets engine tech straight from Formula 1.

Mercedes-AMG

It's about time we started considering Mercedes-AMG's 43-level cars in some of the same conversations that include the 53- and 63-level monsters. Today, Mercedes-AMG announced the 2023 C 43 Sedan. But even though it's the "entry-level" C-Class performance car, AMG gave it some serious upgrades, including standard rear-wheel steering, a mild-hybrid system, and plenty of power.

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 SedanRear-wheel steering is standard, as is adaptive suspension. Mercedes-AMG

The new turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 402 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque - up from last year's 385 ponies. It's paired with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, a nine-speed automatic transmission, and rear-biased all-wheel drive. Mercedes says the powertrain is strong enough to propel the C43 to 60 mph from a standstill in just 4.6 seconds.

The four-cylinder is the first production engine with an electric exhaust-gas turbocharger. The tech came directly from the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, who won the 2021 Constructor's Championship. Where traditional turbochargers have to build boost over a short period of time, an electric motor spins the turbo to start before allowing the exhaust gases to take over. The system is driven by the car's 48-volt mild-hybrid system and should reduce turbo lag and improve responsiveness.

2023 Mercedes-AMG C 43 SedanThe car's electric turbocharger is a first in a production car. Mercedes-AMG

Five driving modes are available, including Slippery, Comfort, Sport, Sport +, and Individual. The drive modes alter throttle and steering response, transmission shift points, exhaust sound, and settings for the adaptive dampers. Shockingly, the car comes standard with rear-wheel steering with an angle of up to 2.5 degrees. The system works at speeds of up to 37 mph, and can drastically reduce the C 43's turning radius while improving turn-in and handling.

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