As U.S. crossover sales boom, BMW aims to grab an additional chunk of the segment with the X2, a small crossover set to go on sale next spring as a 2018 model.
By expanding its crossover lineup at the lower end, BMW has its eye on conquesting younger customers. The X2, with its coupelike styling, will be positioned as a sportier alternative to the X1, BMW's entry-level crossover that sold 27,812 units last year in the U.S.
BMW released images and specifications for the production X2 last week. The vehicle will debut in January at the Detroit auto show.
BMW isn't giving sales projections for the X2, but it's expected to be "a very important part of our business," Ian Robertson, BMW AG board member in charge of global sales and marketing, told Automotive News this year. "We think it's an exceptionally good conquest tool."
Robertson noted that the X1, which debuted in 2009 globally and in 2012 in the U.S., initially attracted 72 percent of its buyers from outside the BMW fold.
Including its Mini brand and the other small cars it has added since 2001, BMW Group now sells close to 900,000 small cars a year globally, Robertson said.
"We've started to attract customers from near premium and volume cars because our model range is extended down into a different territory," he said. "So these cars enable customers to enter the brand. If you then look at loyalty factors of somewhere around 55 to 60 percent, you're bringing in a lot of conquests and you're loyalizing well over half of them. That's how the machine works."
BMW hasn't revealed pricing for the X2. It rides on BMW's UKL front-wheel-drive platform also used by the X1 and Mini. BMW announced all-wheel-drive and fwd versions for other markets, but the only X2 model announced so far for the U.S. is the xDrive28i, which is awd. It will be powered by a 228-hp, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
It's possible that a lower-priced, fwd model could come later. BMW offers the X1 in fwd and awd versions. The X2 joins the X1 as the only BMWs in the U.S. based on a fwd platform.
BMW is counting on sleeker exterior styling to set the X2 apart from the X1. The X2 has the same wheelbase but is shorter and lower than the X1. It has a stretched but clipped-off, coupe-style roofline. The X2's face also stands apart from that of the X1. Though it has BMW's iconic kidney grille, designers have turned it upside down, instead widening the openings from top to bottom. The X2 is the first modern BMW with this grille design, the company said.