bmw scholars

New facility planned at BMW Manufacturing Co.

Building the “Ultimate Driving Machine” requires the ultimate workforce.

And Spartanburg County-based BMW Manufacturing Co. plans to take its associate training efforts to the next level.

The automaker confirmed Monday it will expand its BMW Scholars program from 60 college students per year to 100.

A new 10,000-square-foot facility planned for the company’s 1,150-acre campus near Greer will provide classroom space for the program, as well as all BMW associate training.

“We are very excited about expanding the BMW Scholars program,” said BMW Manufacturing Co. spokesman Steve Wilson. “This has been an effective recruitment tool for us.”

BMW Scholars was launched at the plant in 2011. The program started with 35 scholars per year, but has nearly doubled in size.

Wilson said about 60 percent of the students who take part in the program are pursuing careers in mechatronics, which is a field that blends mechanical and electric engineering, computer control and information technology.

“This is a very popular, growing area,” Wilson said. “It will be very important for us as we move forward. Our new body shop, which is under construction, will eventually have more robots than we currently have on site.”

According to site plans filed with the county, the South Carolina Ports Authority will construct the new building, which is being called the “Customer Training Center.

The building will be on the ports authority’s property adjacent to the 60,000-square-foot “Site Operations Center” nearing completion at the southeast corner of the campus.

Wilson said BMW has signed a usage agreement with the ports authority for the building.

He said the Site Operations Center will open by the end of the year, but he did not know when the Customer Training Center would open.

A ports authority spokeswoman declined to comment on the construction.

Wilson said a majority of the plant’s technical training will continue to be done at at its Training and Development Center off Brockman-McClimon Road, just a short distance from its Associate Family Health Center.

BMW Manufacturing Co. is the production hub of the Germany-based automaker’s Sports Activity Vehicle segment, including the X3, X4, X5 and X6.

The plant produced a record 400,904 vehicles in 2015, which enabled it to earn bragging rights as the largest BMW manufacturing facility on the planet.

A $1 billion expansion of the plant is nearing completion. The expansion, announced in 2014, will increase its output to 450,000 vehicles by the end of this year and will add a new model—the X7—to the plant’s production lineup.

As of Saturday, BMW Manufacturing Co. employees have produced more than 260,000 vehicles this year, according to numbers provided by the company.

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