South Carolina's automotive industry is thriving and continues to lead the manufacturing sector in the state. In 1994 BMW scored a first when it began manufacturing automobiles in South Carolina with its first full manufacturing facility outside of Germany and its only plant in North America. BMW continues to invest and expand in the state and is the company's expertise center for its X Model vehicle.
In addition to manufacturing, BMW's operation includes an Analysis Center which functions as an engineering laboratory, a Testing Facility that includes a test track, a Process Development Center that manages the supplier network and an automated warehouse/sequencing center. The $12 million BMW Performance Center, located adjacent to the factory, is a state-of-the-art driving school for BMW automobiles and motorcycles.
South Carolina has become a powerhouse in tire manufacturing with three ground breaking investments – Bridgestone, Continental and Michelin have poised South Carolina to become the top tire-making state in the country and ranks first among all tire-exporting states.
Other OEMs include Daimler Trucks, Honda, American LaFrance and Force Protection. Daimler Trucks assembles Sprinter vans and a subsidiary, Freightliner, builds chassis, plus its sales and marketing division is located in South Carolina. Honda makes all-terrain vehicles and engines. American LaFrance manufactures a full line of emergency vehicles and apparatus and is also headquartered in the state. Force Protection is a leading developer and manufacturer of ballistic- and blast-protected vehicles that are used around the world.
More than 200 suppliers, including Bosch, Draexlmaier, ZF, Gestamp, PRETTL and Schaeffler support these manufacturers.