BMW plans to capture a wider audience by adding more SUVs to its range, confirming its seven-seat X7 and the smaller, coupe-styled X2 crossover, will be on sale Down Under within two years.
The additions would give the German manufacturer a spread of SUVs and SUV coupes, from the small X1 through to the upper-large X7, completing the numbers game for a broad customer base and a size to suit all buyers.
BMW Australia Group CEO Marc Werner confirmed that the seven-seat X7 would be available within two years but said he wished it would be here sooner.
“Arguably this is something we would have liked to have seen much earlier, but it’s the way it is, but the car is coming, and that’s the good news,” he said.
“That’s another niche, I want to call it, or another great opportunity for us to further exploit a business opportunity.”
The X7, to be built in the US, will compete directly with the Mercedes-Benz GLS seven-seat SUV, though its seating capacity and luxury feature list will put it up against others including the Range Rover Vogue, Lexus LX570, Volvo XC90, Infiniti QX80 and Audi Q7.
The upper-large SUV market segment in which the X7 will compete was the fastest growing of any vehicle segment in 2016, recording a 27 per cent rise for the year. It was up 8.4 per cent in January this year in a soft market that only recorded a 0.6 per cent total increase.
Mr Werner said he expects the X7 to dominate the segment when it arrives.
“I think we’ll not only be competitive but we’ll definitely be the benchmark in that segment,” he said.
“Our range is so wide now that we can cater for whatever the customer wants.”
Mr Werner said it was an easy decision to introduce the X2 into Australia and expects solid sales from the niche wagon when it arrives at an as yet undisclosed date next year.
“It makes perfect sense to launch an X2 between the X1 and the X3, and basically follow the concept of SAV (sports activity vehicles) coupes such as the X4 and the X6,” he said.
He said the X3-based X4 SUV was “going from strength to strength” and Australian sales were “very, very exciting” and expected the same market reaction to the X2.
The X2 was shown in pre-production guise at last year’s Paris motor show. It is expected to share drivetrains with the X1, including three- and four-cylinder petrol engines and four-cylinder diesels.
Pricing is yet to be announced but it is likely to have a premium over the X1 in the same way that the X4 is priced about 13 per cent above the X3. That means the X2 could start at about $58,000 as a petrol front-wheel-drive model.
BMW sold 4090 X1 models in 2016 and though sales of the X2 will be less given its niche role, it may be capable of emulating the respectable 1734 sales made by the X4 in 2016 compared with the X3 sales of 3824.
The announcement of the additional models coincides with BMW reporting increased global sales for January of 143,553 vehicles, up 7.2 per cent on January 2016.