Trade war won’t af­fect BMW plant

Houston Chronicle - - BUSINESS -

BMW AG, among the worst-hit car­mak­ers from the U.S. trade war with China, said the ten­sions will play a se­condary role in de­ci­sions on where it’s mak­ing cars.

The cur­rent spat, set to cost some $340 mil­lion this year from higher tar­iffs, is prob­a­bly tem­po­rary, BMW’s Chief Fi­nan­cial Of­fi­cer Ni­co­las Peter said in a panel dis­cus­sion in Paris. The com­pany fol­lows de­mand ex­pec­ta­tions in choos­ing where to lo­cate pro­duc­tion, he said.

“I am op­ti­mistic and I think even­tu­ally men and women in charge will re­al­ize” the trade re­stric­tions “aren’t the best for cit­i­zens,” Peter said at the event, which was fo­cused on Fran­coGer­man re­la­tions. “It is not like: ‘We in­vest here be­cause of tar­iff is­sues.’ It is mostly about whether the mar­ket is grow­ing.”

The world’s sec­ond-big­gest lux­ury car­maker ships pop­u­lar sport util­ity ve­hi­cles to China from its plant in the U.S., which has at­tracted a puni­tive 40 per­cent tar­iff since July. BMW is near­ing a de­ci­sion in the next few weeks on pro­duc­ing an­other model in China, Peter said.

Peter re­it­er­ated a plan to in­vest $600 mil­lion at Spar­tan­burg, S.C., the com­pany’s largest fac­tory, to boost out­put to as many as 450,000 cars an­nu­ally. The com­pany started mak­ing the X3 SUV in China this year, in ad­di­tion the sev­eral other mod­els like the 1-, 3- and 5-Se­ries sedans. He de­clined to say which model BMW is set to start mak­ing lo­cally.

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