BMW says it plans to offer electric X3 SUV and Mini models

September 30, 2016 12:13 PM EDT

A BMW vehicle is being charged on media day at the Paris auto show, in Paris, France, September 30, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

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By Joseph White and Edward Taylor

(Reuters) - German luxury auto maker BMW AG said on Friday it will offer all electric versions of its next generation BMW X3 compact sport utility vehicle and electric Mini models, expanding its entries in the emerging electric luxury vehicle market.

BMW confirmed a report earlier Friday by Bloomberg News.

Reuters reported on Sept. 9 that top BMW executives were skipping Paris auto show events this week to resolve differences over electric vehicle strategy and chart a new electric product offensive, including a possible electric Mini.

The electric Mini is expected to debut in about three years, company officials said.

BMW faces increasing pressure from German rivals Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG as well as Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) of the United States, which have outlined aggressive plans to court affluent buyers - and respond to regulators - with new electric vehicles.

BMW moved earlier than its German rivals to field innovative electric cars, launching the BMW i3 battery-powered city car in 2013 with a lightweight body made of carbon fiber instead of steel or aluminum. However, the i3 and the plug-in hybrid i8 have been slow sellers.

Meanwhile, Tesla is aiming for sales of 80,000 or more electric sedans and sport utility vehicles this year, and has said that nearly 400,000 would-be buyers have placed reservations for its Model 3 sedan. Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk has said he is targeting a July 2017 launch for the Model 3.

Daimler and VW used this week's Paris auto show to promote plans to launch new waves of electric vehicles.

Germany's luxury car champions face a convergence of pressure to embrace electric vehicles from regulatory mandates and from Tesla's success at winning affluent consumers to the idea of premium electric vehicles.

In the United States, California and several other states have adopted escalating quotas for sales of electric vehicles. California's goal is that 15 per cent of vehicles sold in the state in 2025 would be battery-powered. Policymakers in China, the world's largest vehicle market, and Europe are also calling for more electric vehicles.

(Reporting by Joe White in Detroit and Edward Taylor in Paris; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Matthew Lewis)

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