BMW could conceivably shift some car production from Germany to its crossover plant in Spartanburg, S.C., if President Donald Trump follows through on threats to erect high barriers to trade.
Speaking on the sidelines of a symposium in Germany this month, CEO Harald Krueger said Spartanburg would be preferable to building a facility in the U.S. where BMW could reassemble completely knocked-down cars such as the 5-series sedan. Mercedes currently uses this approach, screwing together Sprinter cargo vans in Charleston, S.C., that actually are manufactured in Germany to circumvent the "chicken tax."
Of course, Spartanburg now produces crossovers only, but that could change.
"You can never rule out whether in the future you may manufacture locally something else in addition," Krueger explained. "The bandwidth of the production system is flexible enough to build other models in the U.S., just as in Germany or China."
Krueger said it took less than nine months after the decision was made for BMW to re-equip its Dingolfing plant in Germany to produce 3-series sedans that before had been built in Regensburg and Munich.
"If the production systems are prepped, and when the flexibility is there, you can shift production from one plant [to another] in a reasonable period of time," he said.