Magna's Austria plant to lose production of BMW X3

TORONTO Wed May 16, 2007 8:50am EDT

TORONTO May 16 (Reuters) - Magna International MGa.TO said on Wednesday BMW AG (BMWG.DE) decided to pull production of its X3 mid-size sport utility vehicle from a Magna plant in Austria and transfer it to the automaker's own plant in South Carolina.

Magna said the timing of the shift in production of the next generation X3 is at the discretion of BMW but it expects the move to take place in 2010.

The X3 is assembled by Magna Steyr, a unit of Canadian auto parts giant Magna International, in Graz, Austria.

Magna said it has begun discussions with customers about future assembly opportunities for the Graz plant. According to Magna, BMW X3 production represented about 45 percent of total vehicles assembled at Magna Steyr.

The shift in production of the X3, which was launched in January 2004, means it will be built with BMW's Z4 roadsters and X5 SUVs in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

BMW sold 114,000 units of the X3 last year worldwide, which was up 3 percent from 2005.

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