Bmw to Build Next X3 in U.s

By: Anthony Fontanelle

BMW, the world's largest premium carmaker, will build the next-generation X3 mid-size sport utility vehicle in its U.S. plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the company said on Tuesday.

"We will expand the production capacity of our U.S. plant in Spartanburg in the medium term from the current 140,000 to well over 200,000 vehicles per annum," Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer said in a drafted speech to be delivered at BMW's annual general meeting. Reithofer confirmed the group's vehicle sales and earnings forecast for this year, which foresees an increase in pretax profit adjusted for last year's one-off gain on a Rolls-Royce exchangeable bond and sales of over 1.4 million units.

In mid-March, Reithofer was quoted saying that the group needs to build up its production volume in Spartanburg to roughly 200,000 units or more in the next two to three years to help hedge against currency fluctuations. In 2006, the plant built just 105,000 vehicles in Spartanburg last year. Partly as a result, the company suffered adverse forex headwinds of 666 million euros or $902 million last year and another 677 million in 2005 given the strong euro.

Last year, the German automaker sold 31,291 units of the X3 in the United States and that number is a marginal gain over the 30,769 delivered to purchasers in 2005. Overall, BMW sold 114,000 units of the X3 last year worldwide, a gain of three percent.

The X3, which was first introduced to the market in January 2004 and refreshed in September of 2006, is assembled in Austria by Magna Steyr - a unit of Canadian car parts giant Magna International. The compact luxury crossover SUV, also called Sport Activity Vehicle (SAV), is based on the BMW 3-Series automobile platform. In 2005, the X3 3.0i won the Canadian Car of the Year Best New Sport Utility Vehicle award.

It was earlier reported that the X3 will not get the R6 until the all-new BMW X5 is released this year. The X5 will feature the R6 engine amongst other newer engines. The X3 will receive, however, redesigned monochromatic front and rear fascias to substitute the flat black bumpers. Also, the 2.5i variant will no longer be sold in the U.S., as buyers tended to go more for the 3.0i model.

Aside from other revolutionary auto parts like BMW brake pads, the new X3 is equipped with a special version of the 'M' technik bodykit as standard. The difference being in that the U.S. cars had unpainted wheel arches and door sills. The U.S. spec Sport Package features the 'M' bodykit available in the rest of the worldwide as a BMW accessory.

Under the hood of the 2007 X3 is the 3.0si engine which is capable of generating 260 horsepower and 225 torque at a lower rpm. Additionally, the front and rear facia are modified, more resembling the X5 SUV. Other fabulous changes include all-new LED lights and interior upgrades. The available Cold Weather Package will include heated seats in the front and the rear. Adaptive headlamps and a panoramic sunroof are available, as well as upgraded dashboard components and leather seating. The vehicle is now on sale in the United States.

In regard the next-generation BMW X3, nothing much is known about its features except its place of production. Spartanburg plant in South Carolina is also building the current E70 BMW X5 is being built.

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