Spartanburg – Cars and Colleges

On Thursday we left Gaffney, SC after having the motorhome serviced and moved about 30 miles south to a campground just outside of Spartanburg, SC.  Driving into the campground you are tempted to turn around and leave,as it is narrow and winding, but once you get into the facility it is a pretty nice place.  Our site is paved and has a concrete pad for sitting outside.

One of our neighbors suggested that we tour the local BMW plant during our stay.  BMW as in the car ? ? ?  This is Spartanburg, South Carolina, not Munich, Germany ! ! !  It turns out that BMW has been building cars in Spartanburg for the past 16 years.  They are currently running two shifts a day with each building over 300 X5s and X6s.

As you can see in the picture above (I had to climb a very high ladder to get that shot), the plant is huge.  You can see I-85 at the very top of the picture with the main plant just below it.  We only toured the main plant, which took almost 2 hours!  The plant is very high tech, with robots doing most of the welding and everything timed down to the minute.  They only build cars that are already ordered (with cash up front) so each car has it’s own set of “extras”.  Parts are timed to arrive at the assembly station in the order necessary to custom build each car and at just the time they are needed.  Vendors can be fined as much as $2,000 a minute for late arriving material, so many of them have relocated in the Spartanburg area to make delivery more reliable.  The parts are also delivered packed in the order of installation, so everything runs like a well-choreographed dance.  It’s pretty amazing to watch.

Saturday was a nice day so we made a visit to a local college (surprise).  Spartanburg has three colleges (USC-Upstate, Converse College, and Wofford College).  We spent some time riding around the Wofford campus, since this is the only one we ever heard about.  There was an important home football game happening on campus beginning at the time of our visit, so we were a little concerned about parking and traffic.  But apparently a school of 1500 students doesn’t have the same atmosphere on game day as a school like Penn State.  We arrived on campus and easily found a parking place at the visitor’s center.  Since there was very little car or foot travel around us, we consulted a large campus map to see if the football stadium was on campus.  We could hear a PA system somewhere so we road across the campus and found the game just beginning.  Such is life on a small campus (Wofford beat Chattanooga to win a share of the Southern Conference title).

While small (second smallest in Division I – smallest D1 with a football program), Wofford College has a beautiful campus.

The weather looks great for the next few days so a motorcycle ride into the Smoky Mountains is eminent.   We’ll be here until Wednesday when we move down I-85 to the Atlanta area for Thanksgiving.

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2 Responses to Spartanburg – Cars and Colleges

  1. Paul Weaver says:

    WOW!….the BMW tour looks awesome…..we missed that when we were in the area. Always something to come back to!

    Have a safe trip! Happy Thanksgiving!

    Paul (and Marsha)

  2. Great tip, we will be in the area end of April. Steve will definitely tour the plant while i will be out of the country for the month of May.

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