According to German media, BMW plans to build an electric SUV for the U.S. market to rival the upcoming Tesla Model X. The plan to build the crossover at BMW’s plant in Spartanburg, S.C., is awaiting board approval, Wirtschaftswoche reported, citing company sources. A BMW spokesman told Automotive News Europe that the report was “speculation,” an usual comment from BMW before any plans are finalized.
BMW CEO Harald Krueger is eager to add an electric SUV to rival the Model X, Wirthschaftswoche said.
The BMW electric SUV would join the i3 and i8 models, as the third car in the newly formed “i” family. The i3 and i8 are built in Leipzig, Germany, so it remains unknown if the electric SUV would be built in Spartanburg along with the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7.
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 greenlit, the BMW electric SUV won’t appear before 2018. BMW will offer this year the X5 xDrive40e, a plug-in hybrid with a total system output of 230 kW/313 hp generated by a four-cylinder petrol engine with BMW TwinPower Turbo technology and a synchronous electric motor.