This isn’t a total shocker, but BMW reportedly plans to build an electric SUV in the U.S. as a rival to the upcoming Tesla Model X. If it happens, the battery-powered model would be the third one under BMW’s i brand.
The plan to build the crossover at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, S.C., is awaiting board approval, the Wirtschaftswoche cites company sources as saying the new SUV will be built at BMW’s plant in South Carolina. BMW also builds the X3, X4, X5 and X6 crossovers.
A BMW spokesman told Automotive News Europe that the report was “speculation.” However, those aforementioned sources tell Wirthschaftswoche that BMW CEO Harald Krueger is eager to add an electric SUV to rival the Model X.
The electric crossover would join BMW’s i brand, which already includes the i3 electric hatchback and i8 plug-in hybrid sports car. The i3 and i8 are built in Leipzig, Germany. BMW recently reported a nine-month waiting list for the hot-selling i8.
Arndt Ellinghorst, head of global automotive research at Evercore ISI, said in an investors note: “In our view an iSUV makes perfect sense for BMW. SUVs are in demand and given the market’s reaction to Tesla’s Model X so far, it seems to be a good fit for families and suburban commuters.”
If it indeed happens, and it would be more surprising if it didn’t, don’t expect the model much earlier than 2018. Tesla’s Model X is now due out in 2016 after being delayed from a 2015 launch date.
In other news, BMW will debut all-new 7 Series on Wednesday, June 10th. The flagship sedan sheds some pounds, gets laser headlights and BMW’s new inline-six engine in the 740i trim. Another version is likely to get a V8, and possibly another a diesel.
Technology wise, BMW says there will be a self-parking feature that doesn’t require anyone to actually behind the wheel. Instructions are sent to the car using the key fob, which features a display panel to provide a variety of vehicle-specific info.
If buyers are really looking to drive in the lap of luxury they can also reportedly order a massive, panoramic glass roof and a leather-covered engine cover. The 7 Series should go on sale this fall.
Photo Credit: BMW