BMW’s successor to the 3 series convertible will be launched in March 2007 with a folding hardtop, company insiders have told Automotive News Europe.

German supplier Edscha will supply the roof. It will lease a newly built construction area at BMW’s Regensburg, Germany, plant to produce the three-part roof system. The Regensburg plant is one of the two German factories along with Munich where the 3 series, BMW’s top selling model, is built. Company sources said between 100 and 160 Edscha workers will be employed at the Regensburg plant. Up to 20% will be contract workers.

BMW is expected to introduce the vehicle at the Paris motor show in September 2006. Last year, BMW sold 40,300 units of its 3 series convertible worldwide. About 9,200 were sold in Germany. In 2002, the niche model’s most successful year to date, BMW sold more than 54,000 units.

Winning the BMW contract is another boost for Edscha. It also has won the contract for Peugeot‘s next coupe-convertible model, the 207CC, due in 2007, industry sources say.

Despite the new business, the company plans to lay off about 1,000 of its 6,900 workers by the end of 2005. Edscha has been forced to cut costs because of overcapacity.

The supplier ranks No. 93 on the Automotive News Europe list of top 100 global suppliers with worldwide original-equipment automotive part sales of $1.2 billion (about €1 million) in 2004.