BMW to build next-generation X3 in U.S.

By From Reuters| May 15 2007
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BMW to build next-generation X3 in U.S.

BMW will build the next generation of its popular X3 SUV in its U.S. plant in Spartanburg, S.C., German business daily Financial Times Deutschland reported.

"That was just decided," the newspaper quoted a company source as saying in an article to be published in its Tuesday, May 15, edition.

The model, first launched in January 2004 and refreshed in September 2006, is assembled in Austria by Magna Steyr, a unit of Canadian car parts giant Magna International.

BMW currently builds Z4 roadsters and X5 SUVs in Spartanburg. It already has decided to build an all new coupe-shaped SUV crossover in Spartanburg that some in the motor press have dubbed the X6.

BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer, who has initiated the first strategic review since 2001, has said 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.

It built just 105,000 vehicles in Spartanburg last year.

Partly as a result, the company suffered adverse foreign exchange headwinds of $902 million (666 million euros) in 2006 and another 677 million euros in 2005.

BMW sold 31,291 units of the X3 in the United States last year, a marginal gain over the 30,769 delivered to customers in 2005.

Overall the group sold 114,000 units of the X3 last year worldwide, a gain of 3.0 percent.

Originally management considered possibly building the coming X3 in Germany, the newspaper wrote.

A labor representative told the paper any such decision would be viewed critically since BMW is not fully utilizing production capacity at its Leipzig plant, where it builds its 3-series sedan and 1-series hatchback.

BMW could not be reached for comment.

It is holding its annual general meeting in Munich on Tuesday.

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