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BMW plans more niche vehicles

'Automotive News' reports on new model plans from BMW.

Automotive News

MUNICH--BMW plans to develop more niche models to offset falling sales in its traditional segments.

After the X6 crossover launched this year and the Progressive Activity Sedan, due in 2009, BMW expects to produce a derivative of the next 3 series, a company spokesman said.

"We are investigating whether we can successfully occupy more niches across all existing model lines," the spokesman said.

A 3-series offshoot could allow BMW's assembly plant here to operate more profitably. Because of falling demand in conventional segments, it will be hard for the company to use all of the plant's daily capacity of 1,000 vehicles with just the 3-series sedan and touring models now built there.

Plant manager Manfred Erlacher says he is prepared for another model.

"If this were to involve a derivation of the four- or five-door 3 series, we can change production over to another model within three months," he said.

A similar strategy also is planned for the new 5 series.

The BMW Group's global sales rose 2 percent in August, helped by growth in China and Russia and gains for the Mini brand. Mini sales worldwide jumped 10.8 percent to 16,257, while BMW brand sales were up 0.4 percent to 85,315 vehicles.

BMW brand sales in the United States declined 4.1 percent in August and are off 7.4 percent for the first eight months of the year.

(Source: Automotive News)