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These rejuvenated crossover SUV models helped BMW increase profits

James Leggate

BMW plans to double-down on popular crossover SUVs and electric vehicles after seeing double-digit growth in sales of some of those luxury models.

The BMW X3 saw a 74 percent sales increase in the first nine months of the year, compared to the first nine months of 2018, the company said in its quarterly statement Wednesday — from 132,478 last year to 230,497 this year. And sales of its X4 increased by 43.4 percent for the same period, from 31,233 to 44,789.

The automaker revamped both the X3 and X4 lines in 2018.

“One of the reasons they remain highly desirable is that they are more efficient than many comparable models in its class,” said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the BMW AG board of management, during a conference call Wednesday.

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The BMW brand saw record volume during the nine-month period, the company said. Its X family saw an overall increase of about 25 percent.  The company reported a net profit increase of 11.5 percent to the equivalent of $1.72 billion for its third quarter.

To build on the success, BMW is planning to launch an X3 plug-in hybrid in December, according to Zipse. And the company plans to introduce a battery-electric X3 next year.

BMW said it has seen increased interest in all-electric vehicles. The iX3 will charge in less than 30 minutes at a DC fast charging station and have a potential range of 250 miles, according to the company.

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Production of the iX3 will begin at BMW’s Shenyang, China plant in 2020. Zipse said BMW expects China will be its biggest market for the iX3.

“That is why we will produce it there — and export it to the rest of the world,” he said.

BMW also plans to introduce its all-electric iNEXT and i4, which will be manufactured in Germany, starting in 2021. The i4 will feature a larger battery pack than the iX3 and include BMW’s “fifth-generation” electric technology that integrates the electric motor, transmission and power electronics, similar to the iX3.

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Meanwhile, the company hasn’t revealed as many details about the upcoming iNEXT, but Zipse described it as BMW’s “new technology flagship.” The vehicle will reportedly include some degree of self-driving capability, but likely not be a fully self-driving car.

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