South Carolina Dealers & BMW Grappling With Massive Flooding

South Carolina auto dealers and BMW AG are digging out and adjusting after more than 2 feet of rain have fallen over the last three days in some parts of the state, leading to catastrophic flooding.

BMW’s U.S. plant in Spartanburg, S.C., reported that flooding in Columbia, S.C. — where the Congaree River rose 10 feet in 12 hours according to reports — has delayed rail transfer of finished vehicles to the Port of Charleston. Seventy percent of the plant’s vehicles are exported.

“BMW will work closely with state authorities to assess alternative options, including movement by truck to the Port of Charleston,” BMW spokeswoman Sky Foster said in a statement.

Daimler Vans Manufacturing, which produces the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van in Ladson, S.C., near Charleston, was shut down on Monday. The plant itself was not impacted by floodwaters, but it was not running because of widespread road and school closures.

“We plan to resume the production line tomorrow and will make up the lost time on Saturday,” Daimler spokeswoman Andrea Berg said in an email. “However we are assessing the situation again later today.”

It was too early to assess the damage to the state’s new-vehicle dealerships in areas hard-hit by the floods. Many stores were not answering their phones today and there was no answer at the South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association office in Columbia.

The storm had dumped more than 20 inches of rain in parts of central South Carolina since Friday, the National Weather Service said. The state climatologist forecast another 2 to 6 inches through Monday as the rain began to slacken.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said parts of the state were hit with rainfall that would be expected to occur once in 1,000 years.

Spartanburg Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge was hit especially hard by the historic flooding. General Manager Darrin Shelton said the dealership will have to total about 105 vehicles after water swept them away during a flood.

Shelton said he has two other stores within 70 miles of the dealership and will replenish its inventory by moving vehicles over from there after the totaled vehicles are removed. In the meantime, he said the dealership has had “normal” selling days. The dealership typically sells between eight and 15 vehicles a day, and Shelton said the dealership has kept up that pace since Friday.

“It’s been a very smooth transition,” Shelton said.

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