The new BMW X3 is following its X5 sibling in the looks department. Picture: SUPPLIED
The new BMW X3 is following its X5 sibling in the looks department. Picture: SUPPLIED

BMW is to spend an extra R160m on its South African assembly plant to increase the production capacity of its new X3 sports utility vehicle.

The German car maker had already allocated R6bn to build the X3, which will go into production early next year, possibly April, at the Rosslyn plant, near Pretoria.

Annual capacity was originally set at 71,000, but BMW SA MD Tim Abbott said on Monday that unforeseen global demand for the vehicle had persuaded the German parent to increase this to 76,000, noting "We expected demand to grow, but not to this extent."

Production of the new X3, which was launched at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September, has already begun in the US. The vehicle will replace the 3-Series sedan, which has been built in SA for nearly 40 years.

The X3 will be built mainly for export to Europe, with Germany and the UK among its main destinations. Long-term, BMW SA hopes to add African markets but Abbott, who is also responsible for BMW marketing across Sub-Saharan Africa, said: "That may take some time."

The success of the X range, which also includes the X1, X, X4, X5 and X6, has taken BMW by surprise. In 2017, X vehicles accounted for 30% of total brand sales, with the X3 mopping up 25% of the 30%. Said Abbott: "We are greatly encouraged by the performance of our X models around the world."

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