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BMW says to invest $1bn to ramp up US production of SUVs

The BMW X1 SUV is seen during the first day of press previews at the New York International Automobile Show April 4, 2012 in New York
The BMW X1 SUV is seen during the first day of press previews at the New York International Automobile Show April 4, 2012 in New York

German automaker BMW said Friday it plans to invest up to $1 billion (730 million euros) by 2016 to expand output of its X-series all-wheel drive SUV vehicles at its US factory.

"This will increase annual production capacity by 50 percent up to 450,000 vehicles from 300,000 currently," chief executive Norbert Reithofer was quoted in a company statement as saying at a ceremony at the plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

BMW is launching production at the facility of the X4 model and announced it would also build the X7 at the plant. It also has plans to build a plug-in hybrid X5 at the factory.

Reithofer said BMW's manufacturing of the large X7 model at Spartanburg for world markets is "once again underscoring our commitment to the US".

The company already produces the X3, X5, X5 M, X6 and X6 M models in Spartanburg.

The expansion means an additional 800 jobs, taking employment to 8,000 at the plant.

"It will also make Spartanburg the largest plant in terms of production capacity in our global production network," said Reithofer.

BMW cited US Commerce Department data showing that the Spartanburg plant exports $7.5 billion in vehicles per year, making it the largest vehicle exporter to non-NAFTA countries in the United States.

Since it opened in 1994, the Spartanburg plant has built more than 2.6 million vehicles, BMW said.

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