March 21 German luxury carmaker BMW
will soon announce plans to build its X7, a large crossover
vehicle with three rows of seats, in South Carolina where its
plant will undergo an upgrade costing several hundred million
dollars, sources said on Friday.
Annual production at the Spartanburg plant, where BMW
currently employs more than 7,000 workers, would be increased to
400,000 vehicles, a third more than its current output, the
BMW in the United States has said only that a "significant
economic and product announcement" would be made when it holds
an event at its Spartanburg factory on March 28.
The company makes a family of crossovers of various sizes in
Spartanburg, which opened in 1994.
Around five years ago, BMW Chief Executive Norbert Reithofer
said plans to build an X7 had been dropped because BMW thought
large sport utility vehicles were at odds with the carmaker's
aim to cut its overall emission footprint.
"The U.S. will stay a market with great potential for us.
This is why we are evaluating the possibility of increasing
capacity in the U.S.," Reithofer said Wednesday at the company's
annual results press conference in Munich.
BMW and Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz plan to expand
their luxury crossover portfolios to seven vehicles each by
2020, according to European supplier sources, with new entries
in multiple sizes and price points, Reuters reported last year.
Volkswagen AG's Audi is nipping at their heels
with plans for six premium crossovers over the same period.
BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi are the global leaders in luxury
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall in Detroit and Ed Taylor in
Frankfurt; Editing by Sophie Hares)