MUNICH -- BMW plans to develop more niche models to help it offset falling sales in its traditional segments.
After the X6 SUV, which was launched this year, and the Progressive Activity Sedan, due in 2009, the company expects to produce a derivation of the next 3 series.
"We are investigating whether we can successfully occupy more niches across all existing model lines," a company spokesman said.
A 3-series offshoot could allow BMW's Munich factory to operate more profitably. Due to falling demand in conventional segments, it will be hard for the company to utilize all of the plant's daily capacity of 1,000 vehicles with just the sedan and touring models now built there.
Plant manager Manfred Erlacher says he is prepared for another model. "If this were to involve a derivation of the four- or five-door three series, we can change production over to another model within three months," he said.
A similar strategy also is being planned for the new 5 series.