As automakers seek new locations for factories in order to lower production costs, hedge against currency fluctuations and build cars closer to where they are sold, BMW is reportedly seeking a site in Mexico to build a new plant for production of its popular 3-Series model. Close rival Mercedes-Benz has already announced that it will start building its next-generation C Class at its plant in the U.S. in 2014 and recently Audi confirmed that it will start building some of its models in Mexico by 2016.
If BMW’s management gives the green light for a new Mexican plant, production of its 3-Series could commence by late 2016. As many as four different sites within Mexico are being considered, and the final decision is expected to be made by the end of next year.
The information was revealed to Automotive News (subscription) by an inside source.
It was almost two decades ago that BMW decided to build its plant in Spartanburg, SC, which is being expanded next year with the addition of a fourth model line, the X4 crossover, which will join the existing X3, X5 and X6 models. A second location in the U.S. was considered but is said to have been ruled out.
Mexico is seen as the ideal production site for a number of automakers due to the country’s lower wages, its proximity to the lucrative U.S. market and its free trade agreements with Canada and the U.S. as well as South America and some Asian countries.
Just as it did with its plant in Spartanburg, BMW would likely keep production numbers low in Mexico and slowly ramp things up. If successful, BMW would likely produce additional models at the plant, possibly the automaker’s new front-wheel drive model.