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BMW confirms X4 SUV

Guesswork: BMW is yet to release official images of its forthcoming X4, but it is expected to mirror the unusual proportions of the X6 SUV (pic left).

US-built Evoque-style BMW X4 likely for Australia from late 2013

16 Jan 2012

BMW has officially confirmed it will produce the much-rumoured X4 compact luxury SUV alongside the X5, X6 and X3 – the latter with which it is most likely to share its underpinnings – at the brand’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina, United States.

Details of the compact X4 are scarce, but it is expected to arrive next year with X6-like coupe styling, enabling BMW to directly compete with the likes of Range Rover’s Evoque and the upcoming Porsche Cajun.

BMW Group Australia head of corporate communications Piers Scott said the company is excited about bringing the X4 Down Under.

“It is something we think would have very strong relevance and application in Australia on the basis of the recent successes of our X range of vehicles,” he said.

“X models account for as much as 30 or 40 per cent of total sales in some months.

“The general trend across the market tends to be that compact SUV sales are really surging.”

The X4 will join an ever-increasing number of niche-filling products from the Munich marque, which include the X6 and 5 Series GT, with a 6 Series Gran Coupe due later this year plus numerous variants based on the new 1 Series and 3 Series in the pipeline.

14 center imageFrom top: BMW X5, X3 and 5 Series GT.

Mr Scott could not confirm rumours that a high-performance X4M was planned, although he said it is conceivable that a “range-topping version that the M division has had a hand in” could emerge under BMW’s recently announced M Performance Automobiles banner.

M Performance Automobiles, the first of which will be an X6 that is expected to feature a triple-turbo diesel engine, will be hotted-up versions of BMW’s existing vehicles, but will stop short of being full-blown M cars.

BMW made the X4 announcement as it celebrated the two-millionth vehicle to be produced at Spartanburg since the first car, an E36 318i sedan, rolled off the line in September 1994.

The Bavarian brand also announced a $US900 million ($A874 million) investment in the facility by 2014, which will expand annual capacity to 350,000 units and make way for the new X4 – in the process creating 300 jobs by the end of this year.

This follows a 73 per cent production increase to a record 276,065 vehicles last year, largely due to demand for the second-generation X3, which went to Spartanburg in 2010 after BMW decided to stop producing the model in Europe.

Speaking at the celebration ceremony, BMW AG board member responsible for production Frank-Peter Arndt said the investment was “in response to rising global demand for our BMW X models and the expansion of the BMW X family to include the BMW X4”.

The expansion will bring BMW’s total investment in Spartanburg to almost $US6 billion.

The company claims 70 per cent of last year’s production was exported, making it the United States’ largest automotive exporter to countries outside the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) zone.

In Australia, the BMW X5, X1 and X3 were among the brand’s top four models last year, but even a huge 235.9 per cent increase in X3 sales was not enough to prevent BMW’s overall sales shrinking 2.7 per cent compared with 2010.

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