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Roadster heads BMW sales charge

On the way: The new Z4 roadster will arrive here during the second quarter of next year.

The Z4 Roadster leads the way as BMW announces a range of future products

5 Aug 2002

NEW BMW Group Australia managing director Franz Sauter pulled something of a rabbit out of his new corporate hat during this week's E66 long-wheelbase 7 Series launch, announcing an array of future BMW product as well as lofty new sales targets.

Mr Sauter said the new Z4 roadster would arrive here during the second quarter of 2003, somewhat earlier than the September appearance previously reported and immediately following a diesel version of the X5 in early 2003.

To be publicly unveiled at the Paris motor show in September, just before its debut Australian appearance at the Sydney motor show and its US on-sale date in October, the Z3 replacement will be priced and positioned closer to the likes of Porsche's Boxster.

Though he chose not to mention its existence, an all-new 5 Series is due toward the end of 2003 - the same year BMW gains ownership of the historic Rolls Royce brand - while Mr Sauter did confirm 2004 would be an even bigger year for BMW.

It will see BMW release an all-new X3 compact crossover, a revived new 6 Series coupe and the smallest BMW sedan ever, the rear-drive1 Series.

A convertible 6 Series will follow in 2005, by which time the X3 in particular will have played a vital role in boosting the privately owned manufacturer's sales volume from the 900,000 units it sold last year to between 1.3 and 1.4 million globally.

In Australia, that means lifting sales from last year's record 12,000 units to around 15,000 (not including Mini) by 2005, but if the first half of 2002 is any indication the figures appear realistic.

The BMW Group built 481,000 vehicles in the past six months, compared to 459,000 units during the same period last year. Including 62,000 Minis sold in the same period, that's an 18 per cent increase.

With Australian BMW sales up one per cent on the same period last year (5800 versus 5900 sales - despite limited supply of some 3 Series models and X5 - Mr Sauter said BMW would easily build 900,000 BMWs this year and afurther 120,000 Minis, bringing total production to over one million vehicles for the first time.

"We recorded 26,000 7 Series sales globally in the first half of 2002, which is 14 per cent up on the same introduction period for the E38 - and with no diesel, no V12 and no long-wheelbase models in countries like Australia," said Mr Sauter, who believes BMW will have theproducts to achieve the ambitious figures.

"We have high expectations for X3 as it will qualify as a 4x4 according to Australian taxation rules," he said.

"X3 is as different to 3 Series as X5 is to5 Series and, while we expect better supply than with the X5 because it won't be built in the US, X3 will still be limited in supply."While Mr Sauter said even by the end of its model life the limited-volume X3 would account for "nowhere near" 40 per cent of 3 Series sales - as Saab executives have suggested the crossover9-3X might do for the 9-3 - BMW Group Australia general manager corporate communications John Kananghinis was more upbeat about X3's potential.

"X3 is going to be a killer for us," he said.

"We'll have that market to ourselves for a while - it will kill things like the Freelander."What's coming:
First quarter 2003: X5 diesel
Second quarter 2003: new Z4 roadster
Fourth quarter 2003: new 5 Series sedan
2004: all-new X3 compact crossover
2004: all-new 6 Series coupe
2004: all-new 1 Series small sedan
2005: all-new 6 Series convertible

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