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BMW X3 build extends to South Africa

Out of Africa: The BMW X3 will soon be built at South Africa’s Rosslyn plant, but Australian-spec versions will still be sourced from the United States.

Demand overwhelms Spartanburg plant, so BMW shifts X3 production to South Africa

23 Nov 2015

OVERWHELMING demand for the X3 SUV has led to BMW planning to build its mid-size crossover in South Africa for export markets.

However, BMW Australia is adamant that the X3 will continue to be sourced from Spartanburg in the US state of South Carolina.

BMW Group Australia general manager of corporate communications Lenore Fletcher said the current model would be built in the United States for the Australian market.

The SUV, launched in its current generation in 2011, received a mid-life makeover in 2014. It is due for a full -model changeover in about 2018.

BMW last week said it would build the X3 in South Africa to ease pressure on its Spartanburg factory.

It will invest $580 million in its South African factory, replacing the production of the 3 Series sedan with the X3. The production of the 3 Series will be allocated to other plants within BMW’s global network.

The X3 will be built in BMW’s Rosslyn plant north of Pretoria. The company said the SUV would be sold locally and exported.

BMW will continue to build the X3 in the US but the addition of the South African line will take pressure off Spartanburg and allow the addition of the planned X7 upper-large SUV that will be a rival for the Mercedes-Benz GLS.

The company predicts Spartanburg – which currently makes all BMW’s X models except the X1 that is made in Germany – will be at full capacity in 2016.

BMW said in a statement that 28 per cent of BMW's global vehicle sales are X models and it expects the South African production will lead to substantial sales in Africa.

The Rosslyn factory was established in 1973 and was BMW’s first plant outside of Germany. It currently makes 70,000 3 Series sedans a year.

Sales of the X3 have remained steady in Australia, rising 1.8 per cent year to date with 2484 units sold to the end of October.

This trails the ageing segment leader, Audi’s Q5, which is up 26 per cent so far this year on 3540 sales. The Range Rover Evoque sits behind the X3 with 2009 sales and Porsche’s Maca is in fourth with 1818.

The segment will get a shake-up next week when Mercedes-Benz launches its long-awaited GLC SUV into the competitive segment.

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