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BMW confirms 2016 X7

New addition: The first BMW X4 rolled off the Spartanburg line this week, and is seen here flanked by key players. The X7 will among the next wave.

New US-made X7 to top BMW’s growing range of SUVs from 2016

BMW logo31 Mar 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO

BMW has confirmed speculation that it is developing a new range-topping X7 large SUV for global release in 2016.

The X7 will be largest BMW off-roader to date, but is expected to be based on a stretched version of its X5/X6 architecture.

Expect road-going versions to forgo BMW’s recent strides into producing rear-drive SUVs by being AWD only. A range of six- and eight-cylinder petrol and diesel engines are also expected, while a version of the forthcoming X5 plug-in hybrid’s electrified powertrain could also feature.

Presumably to be equipped with seven seats, the flagship X model from the Bavarian car-maker will give it a rival for the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class and the Range Rover.

BMW says it will be sold in “world markets”, but expect the bulk of interest to come from the US and China. However, BMW Australia will request the car when the time comes, according to the company’s corporate communications general manager Lenore Fletcher.

“Would we be interested? Absolutely,” she told GoAuto today, but stipulating that it was too early to determine any specifics.

Like the bulk of its X-badged models, the X7 will be built in its mammoth 20-year old Spartanburg plant in the US state of South Carolina.

In order to accommodate the X7, as well as ramp up production levels of the X3, X4, X5 and X6, BMW this week said it would spend $US1 billion ($A1.08 billion) to re-vamp Spartanburg and increase annual capacity by 50 per cent to 450,000 units.

The plant upgrade will see a further 800 workers added to the roster, bumping the workforce to a substantial 8800 people.

“The BMW Group aims for a good balance of growth between all markets and continents,” said BMW board of management member for production Harald Krüger.

“The Spartanburg plant is an important building block in our international network of 28 production and assembly facilities in 13 countries today. It makes a vital contribution to profitable, globally-balanced growth.” About 70 per cent of Spartanburg’s production is exported. This annual export volume totals $US7.5 billion, which makes the BMW Group’s American facility the largest vehicle exporter in the US, according to the company.

BMW says 297,326 X models rolled off the Spartanburg line last year.

In Australia, the X3 and X5 are the second- and third-most popular BMWs sold, after the 3 Series. The niche X4 launches later this year, and a new-generation X6 is expected to emerge internationally mid-year.

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