BMWs 3 Series is already a hit in Brazil and will be the lead model for the new manufacturing facility.

BMW's 3 Series is already a hit in Brazil and will be the lead model for the new manufacturing facility.

BMW is planning to make three models at its new plant in Brazil: the 3 Series, X3 crossover and the Mini Countryman.

The choice of the two models to accompany the 3 Series has surprised some analysts and observers who expected that a three model manufacturing line-up would comprise the 3 Series and two other models closely related in engineering architecture - the BMW X1 and 1 Series.

The 3 Series already enjoys considerable success in Brazil's market. Sales of the 3 Series account for over half of the BMW brand's sales in Brazil. It has also begun selling the Munich-made 320i Active Flex, the world's first direct injection turbo model capable of burning petrol and/or 100% hydrous ethanol premium car.

However, the two other models confirmed for manufacture in Brazil are relatively unrelated to the 3 Series. The X3 shares engineering architecture with the 5 Series and the Mini is on a unique front-wheel drive platform.

BMW will initially invest BRL600million/€200million in the new plant and create 1,300 direct jobs. Annual capacity will be 32,000 units, but could go higher. A FWD compact BMW that shares parts with Mini could also be added later.

President of BMW Group in Brazil Arturo Piñeiro noted the chosen 1.5million sq. meter plant is strategically located. There are five ports, three airports and two federal motorways nearby. The city of Araquari, next to industrial pole Joinville, includes a large German-descendent community and is the largest city in the southern state Santa Catarina.

BMW says that in October 2014 the first Series 3 will roll off the assembly line. The other two models will follow in 2016.

BMW and Mini combined will end 2013 with around 16,000 units registered, a sharp 60% up on 2012.