A new agreement between the Port of Charleston and BMW South Carolina-based BMW Manufacturing Co will result in a larger volume of vehicles through the port, officials for BMW and the SC State Ports Authority said on Tuesday.

"BMW has been a tremendous force for economic development across South Carolina," said the ports authority president and CEO Bernard Groseclose.

Based on the success of the past 10-year relationship between the car maker and the port, the decision was made to renegotiate another 10-year service agreement.

BMW entered into the original agreement in 1995 as the company was establishing a presence with its manufacturing facility in upstate South Carolina. In 1995, the port imported only 65 units for the assembly plant in Spartanburg.

According to Carl Flesher, a BMW Manufacturing spokesman: "Over the past 10 years… our imports and exports have increased significantly to over 115,000 imported and exported vehicles in 2003. We expect to increase our [annual volume] to more than 150,000 vehicles during the next 10 years."

During the last decade, BMW has exported Z3, Z4 and X5 vehicles produced in Spartanburg to overseas markets, as well as importing finished vehicles through the port to meet the growing market demand in its 11-state southern sales region.

Imports will increase in the future as BMW Manufacturing now imports finished vehicles destined for dealerships in 22 states.

In addition to those shipments, BMW also imports parts, such as engines from plants in Germany and Austria and transmissions produced in Central Europe, which are used in the Spartanburg manufacturing plant.

Over the last 10 years, BMW's parts imports have increased over 100%, from approximately 70 containers per week in the late 1990s to more than 7,500 a year in 2003.