SUVs and crossovers are big business, and with the coming tide of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, automakers are positioning themselves to be leaders in this new wave of technology. BMW already has a head start with the i3 EV and i8 hybrid supercar, and we’ve assumed a plug-in sedan called the i5 would be next. But what if its not?
German magazine WirtschaftsWoche reports that BMW is looking into a billion euro expansion of its Spartanburg, South Carolina manufacturing facility to build a new i-branded SUV. The company actually announced the expansion last year, but has not yet made a final decision on whether to go forward with the expansion, or what, exactly, the new vehicle will be.
If it does happen, production capacity could increase to 450,000 units annually, an addition of 100,000 units, making it BMW’s largest factory. Speculation had been that the BMW X7 would be produced at the planet, but plans may have shifted in favor of an all-electric SUV. Or maybe this will merely be an X7 with a plug? Or will BMW give it the carbon fiber treatment like the i3 and i8? It could also be the just-announced BMW X5 PHEV too.
A plug-in SUV makes a lot of sense, perhaps even more so than a plug-in sedan like the i5. Sedan sales are starting to slip, and competitors like Audi and Tesla are preparing to launch plug-in utility vehicles of their own. Without much more to go on, we can only take a wait-and-see approach.