FRANKFURT -- Starting late next year, BMW Group will launch three crossovers within months of one another in the United States.
Among them are the small X1, which debuted at the Frankfurt auto show. The X1 will be positioned as a niche vehicle in the United States when it arrives in late 2010. Europe sales of the X1 start later this year. The crossover will be priced above the 1 series, BMW's entry-level car, which starts at $29,000. The starting price for the X1 in Europe is 29,550 euros (about $43,330 at current exchange rates).
The success of the vehicle will depend "a lot on the price of gas," says Jim O'Donnell, CEO of BMW of North America.
In the United States, the X1 will be powered by a six-cylinder gasoline engine and will be available in both front- and all-wheel drive. The X1 is 175.2 inches (4450mm) long -- slightly longer than the 1 series -- and can carry up to five passengers.
BMW does not plan to price the X1 for high volume, citing the weak dollar against the euro and anticipated strong demand in Europe. That is the same strategy being followed with the 1 series. BMW sells about 1,000 units a month of the 1 series in the United States.
The X1 will be followed in early 2011 by a Mini crossover that debuted as a concept at last year's Paris auto show. That vehicle has not yet been named.
O'Donnell says he is not worried about cross-shopping of Mini and BMW vehicles. He says the brands have different buyers.
The replacement for the X3 crossover, which is expected to be larger than the current version, also will debut in early 2011. The new X3 will be produced at BMW's U.S. factory in Spartanburg, South Carolina.