By David Shepardson
SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (Reuters) -BMW AG said on Wednesday it will invest $1.7 billion to build electric vehicles in the United States, the latest announcement from a major automaker about plans to ramp up U.S. EV production.
The German company said it was making a new $1 billion investment in its Spartanburg, South Carolina plant to prepare for EV production and will spend $700 million on a new high-voltage battery assembly facility in nearby Woodruff, South Carolina, and create at least 300 jobs.
“It’s the biggest single investment we’ve done so far,” BMW Group Chairman Oliver Zipse told Reuters in an interview.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said at a ceremony the BMW capital investment is the largest in the state’s history.
BMW also said Chinese renewable energy group Envision’s Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) will build a new battery cell plant in South Carolina with an annual capacity of up to 30 GWh to supply the automaker.
The luxury automaker plans to build at least six fully electric BMW models in the United States by 2030.
BMW would not set a date to end production of gas-powered vehicles, it said, raising concerns about new U.S. EV tax credit requirements aimed at preventing the use of Chinese battery components and minerals.
Zipse said no region could be completely independent especially on battery raw materials and that the United States “should have a regulation that is not completely unrealistic.”
He warned the new $7,500 EV tax credit law adopted in August could prevent automakers from using the credit.
“It would be a disaster if you stop industry from developing,” Zipse said.
BMW said its new battery format will increase energy density by more than 20%, improve charging speed and boost range by up to 30%.
BMW Group had already announced that four additional battery cell factories will be built in Europe and China to meet its needs. Zipse said the location of a sixth planned cell factory would be determined by market demand.
The cell factories being built by company partners will each have an annual capacity of up to 20 GWh.
BMW’s 30-year-old South Carolina plant has built more than 6 million vehicles, employs more than 11,000 people, and has an annual production capacity of up to 450,000 vehicles.
South Carolina awarded a $65 million grant to Spartanburg County to assist with costs related to the project.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Bernadette Baum)