GREENVILLE, S.C. - South Carolina is putting together a fund that could make at least $80 million available to BMW, even though the German automaker says it has "no immediate plans" to expand the Spartanburg, S.C., plant.
BMW spokesman Carl Flesher characterized the state's plan as a "get-ready move" that is not tied to an expansion plan.
"This kind of state funding will be necessary for a major plant investment," Flesher said. "Currently, there is no state mechanism that could make that happen, for us or anybody else. This sets the stage for whatever we decide to do in the future."
BMW recently spent $600 million to expand the Spartanburg body shop to increase X5 sport wagon production. The plant built 119,324 X5s and Z3s last year, up from 83,672 the year before. Last year, BMW applied for environmental approval for expansions that would allow it to build up to 400,000 vehicles annually, twice the automaker's total U.S. sales volume.
Officials at that time said the move was intended to give the plant flexibility so it would not have to reapply for EPA approval every time it needs more production.
Ten years ago, South Carolina's Department of Commerce created a $135 million incentives package when BMW AG chose its site near Spartanburg. Since then, the state has not competed in the high-stakes bidding for other auto plants.
Alabama just devised a package worth more than $250 million in incentives for Hyundai Motor Corp., which will build a $1 billion auto plant in Montgomery. Two years ago, Mississippi gave Nissan Motor Co. a $295 million incentives package to build a truck plant in Jackson.