Automotive Cluster

South Carolina understands what drives the automotive industry. Home to BMW's largest production facility in the world, the industry continues to grow with announcements from Volvo and Mercedes-Benz Vans to build assembly plants in the state. With a high concentration of engineering talent and cluster of automotive companies, Upstate South Carolina has become one of the nation's most dynamic regions for automotive production and research. From the Upstate, automotive companies can reach more than 16 OEMs in a day's drive.

Upstate Automotive Industry

The automotive industry is growing in every county in Upstate South Carolina. In 2016, new and existing automotive companies announced more than $621 million in capital investment in our region. As a long-standing leader in automotive manufacturing and research, Upstate SC continues to leverage its resources to provide a more fertile environment for the industry.

BMW Manufacturing  With more than 10,000 jobs on-site, BMW produces the X3 and X5 Sports Activity Vehicle and the X4 and X6 Sports Activity Coupe, with an average daily output around 1,400 vehicles. To date, BMW has invested over $8 billion in Upstate South Carolina.

Michelin's presence in the Upstate began in 1973 with its first United States production location. Since then Michelin has established multiple Upstate locations, including its North American headquarters, training facility, research facility, test track, and production facilities.
ZF's largest Upstate facility produces fuel-efficient 8 and 9-speed automatic transmissions for the passenger car and light truck market. At 1.4 million square feet, with more than 2,400 employees, the plant supports production of about 800,000 transmission a year, and growing.
List of Largest Automotive-related companies in Upstate South Carolina

Automotive Resources

The Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) is a 250-acre advanced technology research campus where university, industry and economic development collaborate. With over 200 students currently pursuing a Master of Science and/or Ph.D. in Automotive Engineering, CU-ICAR is training the next generation of automotive engineers with a curriculum driven by industry needs.  Likewise, CU-ICAR's research portfolio is driven by industry needs with focus areas in: Advanced Powertrains, Systems Integration, Vehicular Electronics, Human Factors/HMI, Manufacturing and Materials, Vehicle-to-vehicle Infrastructure, and Vehicle Performance.

On the CU-ICAR campus, the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET) is a 60,000 square foot multi-tenant facility that provides office, administrative and laboratory space for the transportation, technology and energy sectors. In the CET, emerging or established companies are able to expand and develop technologies that complement the research of Clemson faculty and students. The center is designed to complete the technology chain from laboratory to the consumer, and also offers international companies a launching pad for U.S. operations.
Want to experience more? Take the CU-ICAR Virtual Tour.

The International Transportation Innovation Center (iTiC) develops premier technology testbeds to support all forms of mobility innovations, including zero-emission, automated and connected vehicles and systems. iTiC provides automakers, technology suppliers, research universities, and startups the ability to test and develop their innovations in open and/or closed testbed environments.

Established as an initiative by the South Carolina's Manufacturers Alliance, the South Carolina Automotive Council is a member-based organization committed to serving automotive-related manufacturers through programs, services, advocacy and partnership.

Workforce & Training

South Carolina has a strong technical training and workforce development system. To support the growing demand for engineering expertise, CU-ICAR is graduating technical leaders possessing the critical thinking, technical skills, and creativity necessary to handle ever-increasing product complexity in a global environment. Supplying technical positions for the automotive industry, the SC Technical College System works hand-in-hand with its affiliate programs: readySC™ , Apprenticeship Carolina™  and QuickJobs Carolina™, so companies located in the area can take full advantage of the extensive education and training networks.

Upstate South Carolina is home to four technical colleges focused on serving the needs of local business and industry. The technical college system in the Upstate offers multiple automotive related degrees and certificates, including:

  • Mechatronics Technology
  • Automotive Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering Technology with Auto Focus
  • Welding Programs
  • Machine Tool Technology
  • Lean Manufacturing & ISO Programs

The Center for Manufacturing Innovation (CMI) is a collaboration between a leading research university, an innovative technical college and manufacturers to create a center that enhances the development and implementation of advanced manufacturing technologies. The primary goal for CMI is to increase the number of skilled workers to close the skills gap in manufacturing by offering curriculum designed to meet industry needs. CMI will feature the first of its kind manufacturing honors college as well as incubation space for start-ups.

Located at CMI, the Vehicle Assembly Center is a collaboration of CU-ICAR, Greenville Technical College, BMW Manufacturing and Siemens. The 4,000-square-foot center will have a full vehicle assembly line, joining lab, sub-assembly lab, embedded devices lab, collaborative robotics center and autonomous factory vehicles.



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