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  1. Analysis
June 9, 2017

ANALYSIS – current and future BMW SUVs

BMW Group, which built 2.37m vehicles in 2016, has an internal target of expanding this to three million by 2020 and in so doing outpace Mercedes-Benz. Mini has a supporting role in the plan but the heavy lifting will have to be done by the BMW brand, and that should fall mainly on the shoulders of multiple as yet unseen SUVs.

BMW Group, which built 2.37m vehicles in 2016, has an internal target of expanding this to three million by 2020 and in so doing outpace Mercedes-Benz. Mini has a supporting role in the plan but the heavy lifting will have to be done by the BMW brand, and that should fall mainly on the shoulders of multiple as yet unseen SUVs.

Where is BMW to manufacture all these extra vehicles? Insiders claim that BBA, the Chinese JV with Brilliance Auto, will have its plants’ annual production capacity almost doubled. A new plant in Mexico is due to come on line in 2019 too, while

Spartanburg will soon be BMW’s largest factory, capable of producing 750,000 SUVs per annum.

Spartanburg in the US will soon be the Group’s largest single factory, capable of producing 750,000 SUVs per annum, up from 400,000. Despite the capacity expansion, Spartanburg still lacks a stamping operation; nor is there an engine plant.

SAVs

BMW prefers the abbreviation SAV (Sports Activity Vehicle) to SUV. Its current smallest one of these, the second generation X1, isn’t in fact very small at all. The company currently has no official plans to introduce a model below this one, but should that change, due perhaps to the development of an Audi X1, the X0 model name might well be brought into use.

The X1 has BMW Group’s front- and all-wheel drive Untere Fahrzeugklasse (UKL1) architecture as its basis. There will be an additional variant, the X2, in the same way that the X5 and X6, as well as the X3 and X4, are related. This will be a sportier crossover and challenger for the Audi Q2.

China’s Brilliance BMW joint venture builds the X1 L. This long-wheelbase variant had its world premiere at the Beijing motor show in April 2016. As noted in the previous report, Brilliance and BMW’s Zinoro electric car brand also makes a PHEV version of the long-wheelbase X1: the 60H.

In addition to being built in China (Shenyang) and Germany (Regensburg), the X1 is also made in Brazil (Araquari) and the Netherlands (Born). German production commenced in August 2015. The car was announced to the media in June 2015 and had its public debut at September 2015’s Frankfurt IAA. In May 2015, BMW do Brasil announced that it would export the X1 to the USA.

The third generation X1 is expected to appear in early 2022. It should use an evolution of the current model’s front- and all-wheel drive platform.

The X2 will have its public world debut at the Frankfurt IAA motor show in September.

Due to there being an obvious numerical gap below the X3, an X2 is no surprise. It is due for market release later in the final quarter of this year after a public debut at the Frankfurt IAA motor show in September. The prototype pictured above appeared at the 2016 Paris motor show.

A convertible seems unlikely but there should be three-door and five-door variants – rivals for two of the three body styles which Land Rover offers the similarly sized Range Rover Evoque in. As well as production in Germany, there should be assembly in Brazil from 2018.

The current X3 is, unlike the first generation model, built by BMW in the USA, not by Magna Steyr in Austria. Production of this SUV started in September 2010 at BMW’s Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. The facility, which also makes the X5 and X6, had its capacity expanded by 50% to 240,000 vehicles per annum ahead of the start of X3 build.

Larger than the previous model, F25 is in fact only slightly smaller than the first generation X5. It was launched in Europe in November 2010.

BMW began assembling the X3 at its Chennai plant in June 2011. The facility, which formerly had a capacity of 10,000 vehicles, was expanded to 11,000 per annum in August 2011, partly as a result of demand for the X3. BMW’s Malaysian plant then began assembling the X3 in January 2013.

A styling update was announced in February 2014 and a new BMW Group engine also made its debut. Its first appearance was in the X3 xDrive20d, where this 140kW (190hp) 2.0-litre diesel replaced the 135kW (184hp) 2.0-litre. The facelifted X3 had its world premiere at the 2014 Chicago auto show.

BMW will cease making the 3 Series at its South African plant and replace it with the next generation X3.

BMW announced in November 2016 that it would cease making the 3 Series sedan at its South African plant and replace it with production of the next generation X3.

The next X3 is expected later in 2017. Rather than F25’s L7 platform, it should use the 35up RWD/AWD architecture. BBA, the Brilliance Automotive and BMW Group joint venture, will also make the X3 at its Da Dong plant in the Chinese city of Shenyang.

In the same way that there is a second Mercedes-Benz SUV to supplement the GLC-Class, so too BMW has another model very close in size to the X3. This is F26, the X4. A sleeker, restyled version of the second generation X3, it is meant to tempt buyers who might otherwise choose a GLC-Class Coupé. The X3 and X4 models share front doors, bonnet, front bumper, grille, and front wings.

A concept version premiered at the Shanghai motor show in April 2013 with the X4 production model having its debut at April 2014’s New York auto show. Both rear- and all-wheel drive variants are available, depending on the market. X4 series production commenced at Spartanburg in March 2014. European market sales followed from three months later.

Assembly by AvtoTOR at its Kaliningrad plant commenced in June 2015. As well as in Russia, the X4 is also assembled in Brazil. This commenced in September 2016.

The M40i variant was announced in October 2015. It is powered by a 265kW (360PS) 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol engine, which has 465Nm of torque. This is the fastest X4 and it was the first BMW to be powered by this engine.

The X4 will not have a mid-life update; instead it will be replaced in 2018.

The X4 will not have a mid-life update; instead it will be replaced in 2018. The second generation X4 will swap the outdated L7 architecture for 35up. It might also be larger, not only so as to place some distance between it and the X3 in buyers’ minds, but also to give BMW dealers an SUV which can challenge the Range Rover Velar.

Meanwhile, the third generation X5 is in need of a refresh and this should happen soon. This model had its public debut at the Frankfurt motor show in September 2013, with cars reaching US and European dealers two months later.

The launch range was as follows: xDrive50i, 330kW (450hp) 4,395cc new generation turbo petrol V8; xDrive30d, 190kW (258hp) 2,993cc revised six-cylinder turbo diesel; M50d M Performance Automobile 280kW (381hp) 2,993cc tri-turbo diesel. Four more variants followed for some markets from December 2013: sDrive25d (the first RWD variant, with claimed CO2 emissions of 149g/km), xDrive25d, xDrive40d & xDrive35i.

Despite featuring the same 2,933mm wheelbase, the current model is claimed to be roomier inside. In addition, the boot’s capacity is up by 30 litres to 650, or 1,870 cubic litres with the seats folded (a rise of 120l over the second generation X5). The X5 can be ordered with five or seven seats.

The use of ultra-high-tensile steels in the body structure, thermoplastics in the side panels, aluminium in the bonnet and magnesium in the instrument panel support are said to be the main factors behind a weight reduction compared to the old model. Length, width and height are 4,886mm/1,938mm/1,762mm.

Although all production is in the US, kits are supplied to BMW India. Assembly got underway at the Chennai plant in May 2014.

The X5 M (and X6 M, which has the same 423kW (567hp) 4.4-litre biturbo petrol V8) had its world premiere at the LA auto show in November 2014. These went on sale in the US and Europe from March 2015.

For the first time in the history of the X5 model series, build will also be in China.

The fourth generation X5, due for release in 2020, will switch platforms and use an evolution of the 35up as introduced in 2015 by the 7 Series. Production will not only take place in the USA, but for the first time in the history of the X5 model series, build will also be in China.

F16, the second generation X6, was announced in June 2014 ahead of its world debut at the Paris motor show four months later. The current model is bigger than its predecessor: 4,909mm long (+34mm), 1,989mm wide (+4mm) and 1,702mm high (+12mm). The rear seat has 40:20:40 split/folding backrests, which allow load compartment capacity to expand from 580 litres to as much as 1,525 litres (75 litres more than the predecessor model).

The line-up of engines available from the December 2014 launch consisted of a 330kW (450hp) V8 for the X6 xDrive50i, a 190kW (255 hp) six-cylinder diesel for the X6 xDrive30d and another straight-six diesel with three turbochargers and 280kW (381hp) in the X6 M50d. The X6 xDrive35i 225kW (306hp) and X6 xDrive40d 230kW (313hp) were added to the range in relevant markets from May 2015, as was F86, the X6 M. This has the same 423kW (567hp) 4.4-litre biturbo petrol V8 as the X5 M. Each had its world premiere at the LA auto show in November 2014.

The X7, BMW’s largest SUV, will premiere in pre-production form at the Frankfurt IAA.

Expect a package of new and revised engines to be added to the X6 range from late 2017 or early 2018. That will include the quad-turbo diesel which premiered in the 7 Series and which is also available in the new 5 Series.

The third generation X6 should be on sale in 2021. It will use an evolution of the 35up platform which debuted with 2015’s BMW 7 Series. This means it will weigh far less than the second generation model. As well as US build, there should be additional assembly at AvtoTOR’s Kaliningrad plant. It’s also entirely possible that BBA might build the X6 in China for the first time, should there be sufficient demand.

The project to create an X7 was officially announced in March 2014 on the 20th anniversary of the opening of its Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. The largest SAV yet will be pitched against the Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class, Lincoln Navigator, Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, Infiniti Q80 and Lexus LX. The Volvo XC90, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7 and Maserati Levante are yet more considerations for those in the 5-metre+ segment of the market.

As well as five- and seven-seat versions, there should also be a long wheelbase X7 bodystyle, though this may not appear until 2019 or 2020. All will be manufactured at the expanded Spartanburg plant in South Carolina. We’ll see the X7 in prototype form at the Frankfurt show in September, ahead of the arrival of the series production model in 2018.

The mid-life facelift for this largest of BMW’s SAVs should come in 2022, and a second generation X7 in 2025 or 2026.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

Additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as model code names, are available in PLDB from QUBE.

The final feature in the series on current and future models from BMW Group will look at electric BMWs.

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