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By Bruce Smith, Associated Press
CHARLESTON — Two million BMWs made in South Carolina have been exported, a milestone reached Thursday when a metallic gray BMW X-5 was driven aboard a green-and-white auto carrier ship at the docks in downtown Charleston.
The auto manufacturer opened its sprawling South Carolina plant in Greer back in 1994 and it is now the largest in the BMW manufacturing network. About 70 percent of the BMWs manufactured in the state are exported.
"BMW has become part of the fabric of this great state," said Manfred Erlacher, the president of BMW Manufacturing. He said the gray BMW will be sold in Germany and the new owner will get a photo to commemorate Thursday's event.
"From my side I can promise you two things," he added. "Many more BMWs are coming and it won't take 20 years for the next 2-millionth."
State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said the company has had a huge impact on South Carolina, directly employing 8,000, providing more than 20,000 jobs with automotive suppliers and investing $7 billion over the years.
It also led the way for other foreign automotive manufacturers to locate in the state.