CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A major milestone was made Thursday for two big companies in South Carolina.
The SC Ports Authority and BMW Spartanburg plant celebrated its two-millionth vehicle shipped through the Port of Charleston.
The ship full of BMWs left our port around 4:00 p.m. for Bremerhaven, Germany.
The two-millionth vehicle, a Space Grey Metallic BMW X5 M50d, is headed to a customer somewhere in Germany.
"BMW is the gift that keeps on giving as far as the port is concerned," said President and CEO, Jim Newsome, of SCPA. "Because not only do we have the cargo, 250,000 vehicles, over 20,000 containers, but they give us the opportunity to do things we otherwise wouldn't get done."
That includes opening an inland port in Greer to ship more BMWs nationally.
70-percent, or roughly 280,000 vehicles made in Spartanburg, are shipped around the world through the Port of Charleston. That number is only expected to increase.
"I can promise you two things for certain, lots more BMWs are coming, and it won't take 20 years for the next two-millionth," said President and CEO, Manfred Erlacher, of BMW Manufacturing.
1,341 vehicles were loaded for export onto the ELEKTRA vessel operated by Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics. The ship is able to hold 6,000 vehicles, and is loaded by local Longshoremen.
"We have a great workforce here in the port with the Longshoremen who load the ships," Newsome said. "The ports about growth and this is a big part of it."
"The collaboration with the port not only connects BMW customers with their BMW X models, but it also has significant economic impact throughout South Carolina and all around the world," Erlacher added.
BMW exports more than $10 billion worth of vehicles through the port each year. The plant in Spartanburg is the largest BMW factory in the world and only expected to get bigger.
The ship is expected to arrive at the port in Germany in roughly ten to 12 days.
Leaders say one in every five BMWs around the world were made right here in South Carolina.
The Ports Authority has more than 185,000 employees working in its three facilities in Charleston, Georgetown and Greer. They generate nearly $53 billion annually for the economy. The Port of Charleston has been the fastest growing U.S. port since 2011.