Volcano Slows BMW U.S. Plant Production

BMW has slowed production at its U.S. plant in South Carolina because of the flight restrictions in Europe due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland. The ash spread over Europe's skies interrupted BMW's air deliveries of transmissions, announced a company spokesman.

BMW’s Spartanburg plant is the only producer of X5 and X6 vehicles worldwide. The factory produces around 600 vehicles per day and about 70 percent of these are exported from the U.S. Due to recent strong demand, transmissions production times in Europe have shortened and BMW has had them flown to the U.S. instead of shipped by boat in order to keep up schedules, said Bobby Hitt, spokesman for BMW Manufacturing in Spartanburg, quoted by the Associated Press.

On Monday, BMW announced workers it would slow production while maintaining its normal shift schedule and take extraordinary measures to ship transmissions to southern Europe for flights to the U.S. to maintain production, Hitt added. He didn’t say how much daily production would be trimmed or how long that could last before further cuts were needed.

BMW normally runs two 10-hour shifts at the plant from Monday through Thursday and one shift on Friday. In terms of value, about 65 percent of the parts assembled at the Spartanburg plant are sourced from North America, with the other 35 percent coming mainly from engines and transmissions shipped from Europe by boat, Hitt said. BMW uses air freight as a backup occasionally to maintain production levels.

Ash from the Icelandic volcano has interrupted trans-Atlantic flights for five days, affecting travelers and disrupting businesses.
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