BMW approved the seven-seat X7 crossover especially for the United States simply because the German carmaker simply cannot just ignore a market for a BMW product, according to chief executive Norbert Reithofer. During a press briefing before a ceremony to disclose a $1-billion, 100,000-unit expansion at BMW’s Spartanburg site in South Carolina, Reithofer remarked one of BMW’s rivals is the only carmaker offering such a vehicle in the luxury segment, and the “competition needs at least a second one."
Reithofer is referring to the Alabama-built Mercedes-Benz GL, which sales surged 15 percent in 2013 to 29,912 units. He said that the decision to approve the X7 was made in 2013. BMW insiders said the X7 would be available to the public in 2017 or 2018 with the US and China seen as the biggest markets for the crossover.
Harald Krueger, BMW board member for production, remarked that the X7 will not account for the entire 100,000-unit capacity increase at Spartanburg. The site’s expansion will include an extended paint shop, which would allow the carmaker to build more X3, X4, X5 and X6 crossovers.
Reithofer said that BMW will built an X5 plug-in hybrid in Spartanburg using technology and knowledge from its i subbrand. BMW will start selling the X5 plug-in in the US in 2015. BMW is adding crossover models and derivatives due to their growing popularity and also due to the vehicles launched by its rivals, Reithofer said.