BMW's assembly plant in Spartanburg, S.C. will build a new minivan-like crossover vehicle within three years.
The vehicle will use many components from the next-generation X5 sport-utility that goes on sale in two years, says Burkhard Goeschel, BMW board member for development and purchasing. The unnamed vehicle has just been approved and BMW is considering various styling concepts, Goeschel adds.
The crossover will be built in Spartanburg because the United States will be its primary market. The same U.S. suppliers that produce parts for the X5 will deliver components for the new vehicle.
Goeschel says the four-door crossover will have raised seating, sporty handling and a coupe-like exterior. The vehicle will be produced on the same assembly line as the X5 and the Z4, he says. It will likely seat five -- like the X5 -- but won't be as tall. BMW has not yet named the new vehicle.
The crossover will ease the currency problems that BMW and other European automakers are suffering due to the strong euro. But that was not the primary reason the U.S. was chosen as the production site, Goeschel says. BMW wants to produce the vehicle in its biggest market, the United States.
Spartanburg will be the new BMW's sole production source. The plant currently produces up to 150,000 vehicles per year; it will expand its production capacity, but Goeschel declined to estimate the added volume. The plant also will expand its work force; planning for the expansion has just begun.
At the Geneva auto show, BMW also announced a second new vehicle dubbed a "space-functional concept."
This smaller vehicle will be produced in Europe and is aimed at the European market, although BMW will sell some in the United States. Company CEO Helmut Panke described the vehicle during a Tuesday press conference.
The second model also goes on sale in three years. "It will be completely different from anything currently offered on the market," Panke says.
You may e-mail Diana T. Kurylko at