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Which automaker exports the most from the US?

Our occasional roundup of new car news and notes


Ever wonder which automaker exports the most from the United States? 

The answer might surprise you. For the eighth year in a row, BMW Manufacturing and its assembly plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, claims the prize, based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“During 2021, Plant Spartanburg exported 257,876 BMWs with a total export value of more than $10.1 billion,” the automaker recently reported. 

“The BMWs produced in Spartanburg, South Carolina, were exported to about 120 countries primarily through the Port of Charleston, SC (nearly 219,000 units), through five additional southeastern ports – Savannah, GA; Brunswick, GA; Jacksonville, FL; Miami, FL; and Everglades, FL – and by rail to Canada.”

Ready to board ships at the port of Charleston

Of those BMWs leaving Spartanburg, X family SUVs, 24 percent went to China, 12 percent of Germany, and 9 percent to South Korea.

In addition to those X vehicles exported, 179,840 built in South Carolina were sold to customers in the US, BMW noted.

By the way, barrons.com reported that the US exported cars worth $54 billion in 2021 but imported cars worth $143 billion. By the way, that $143-billion figure exceeded the $132 billion in oil the US imported in 2021.

Ram teases its electric pickup truck

The Ram truck brand (nee Dodge) has shared a teaser image of the electric-powered 1500 pickup it plans to launch in 2024. 

“Ram will offer fully electrified solutions in the majority of its segments by 2025,” the company said, “and a full portfolio of electrified solutions for all of its segments no later than 2030.”

Sony, Honda form EV joint venture

Sony displayed its Vision S at CES 2022 | Sony photo

We reported a year ago and again in January about electronics producer Sony showing an electric-vehicle prototype at the Consumer Electronic Show. Like others, we wondered if the company was serious about such a project.

Now we know. Sony and Honda have announced a strategic alliance to establish New Company, and to jointly develop and sell battery-electric vehicles and to provide “mobility services.” The first vehicle is expected to arrive in 2025, they said.

“Although Sony and Honda are companies that share many historical and cultural similarities, our areas of technological expertise are very different,” Honda Motor chief executive Toshihiro Mibe is quoted. “Therefore, I believe this alliance which brings together the strengths of our two companies offers great possibilities for the future of mobility.”

British firm reimagines classic icons

The Aurelia Outlaw European | Thornley Kelham photo

Thornley Kelham, a British shop specializing in restorations, rally prep and support of vintage and classic cars, has announced the launch of its new “European” series, reimagined vehicles from the 1950s and ‘60s. The first, to launch within the next 12 months, the company said, are “inspired” by the Lancia Aurelia Outlaw cars the company produced in 2021.

“In the 1950s, Max Hoffman almost single-handedly turned the American market onto the beautiful agile sports cars of Europe, including Porsche, BMW and Alfa Romeo,” Thornley Kelham co-founder Simon Thornley is quoted. 

“The exotic allure of cars from this part of the world was so enticing that Porsche even sold a number of 356s to the American market badged as ‘European.’ It was the first time many Americans had ever encountered these brands, broadening horizons with fresh, exciting new sports cars. It’s this golden era that we want to recapture with the ‘European’ program, offering modern-day buyers the same kind of thrill of finding something new, something beautiful and something exhilarating.”

The cars will be offered in limited editions and priced between £250,000 and £600,000 ($327,760 to $786,630), excluding the cost of the donor vehicle.

BMW unveils its new 8

2023 M8 Competition | BMW photo

BMW used The Amelia to unveil its new 8 Series lineup, including the high-performance M8. To launch the new models, BMW staged a special celebration of 50 Years of M cars at the Cars & Caffeine event held during the concours weekend. That display included the just-completed restoration of the M1.

Hispano Suiza arrives in US

Automotive Photography by Deremer Studios, LLC

Also at The Amelia, the first of Hispano Suiza’s new series of electric-powered hypercars, a Carmen Boulogne, was delivered to an American customer for the first time, with car collector Michael Fix taking delivery of the car, which was custom built and wears Ocean Song Rose paint.

The color was inspired by Fux’s favorite flower, which he sent from his home in Florida to Spain in hopes the car company’s design staff could duplicate the hue on his 1,114-horsepower car.

Another SUV convertible

You may not have heard of the Volkswagen T-Roc, which it promotes as a compact SUV. But the newest-generation T-Roc has been launched in Europe and it comes in standard, R and cabriolet versions.

Which triggers this thought: Why do automakers think SUV or crossover convertibles are a good thing? OK, so the VW Thing is quirky to the point of being cool, but then there were such questionable examples from other automakers as the PT Cruiser convertible and the Nissan Murano “CrossCabriolet,” and now the drop-top T-Roc. 

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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