FRANKFURT -- BMW plans to build a battery-powered SUV/crossover in the U.S. as a rival to the upcoming Tesla Model X, a German business magazine said.
The plan to build the crossover at BMW's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, is awaiting board approval, Wirtschaftswoche reported, citing company sources. A BMW spokesman told Automotive News Europe that the report was “speculation.”
Spartanburg is the carmaker’s global SUV hub. BMW builds the X3, X4, X5 and X6 crossovers at the factory.
BMW CEO Harald Krueger is keen to add an electric SUV to rival the Model X, Wirthschaftswoche said.
The electric crossover would be the third model sold under BMW's i brand, joining the i3 battery-electric hatchback and i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. The i3 and i8 are built in Leipzig, Germany.
Arndt Ellinghorst, head of global automotive research at Evercore ISI, said in an investors note: "In our view an iSUV makes perfect sense for BMW. SUVs are in demand and given the market's reaction to Tesla's Model X so far, it seems to be a good fit for families and suburban commuters.”
Ellinghorst said that it was unrealistic to expect the model much earlier than 2018.