GUBBIO, Italy - BMW AG will build an X7 flagship sport-utility, but not in the near future.
First, BMW will build the X3, a smaller version of the X5. The launch of the X3 will mark BMW's entry into the compact sport wagon segment, dominated in Europe by the Land Rover Freelander. Other priorities include a 1 series that will be placed below the 3 series compact, and a big coupe and convertible, to be named the 6 series.
Speaking at the launch of the Mini in Italy, Norbert Reithofer, BMW management board member in charge of product development, said the X3 will appear in 2004.
BMW has been spurred in the development of the X3 and X7 by the success of the X5. BMW sold 50,000 X5s in 2000, and that will rise to about 80,000 this year, Reithofer said.
The X5 has been a big hit, particularly in the United States, where it is built at BMW's plant in Spartanburg County, S.C.
The X7 will rival high-end luxury sport-utilities such as Land Rover's next-generation Range Rover. Reithofer is confident the vehicles will continue to push BMW's growth.
The X3, 1 series and the soon-to-be-launched Mini will give BMW a strong presence in the small-vehicle market. Like other BMWs, the 1 series will be front-engine, rear-wheel drive. Only the Mini, on sale this summer, will be front-engine, front-wheel drive.