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BMW SET TO BUILD U.S. ASSEMBLY PLANT, AUTOMOTIVE NEWS REPORTS

 BMW SET TO BUILD U.S. ASSEMBLY PLANT, AUTOMOTIVE NEWS REPORTS
 DETROIT, March 30 /PRNewswire/ -- German luxury-car maker BMW AG is "80 percent" decided on building a new car plant in the United States to produce a new model for worldwide export, the trade paper Automotive News reports in its March 30 edition.
 A decision on the plant, which likely would be located in Anderson, S.C., will be made "within four weeks," according to an unclassified U.S. government memo that relates a consular official's dinner conversation on March 20 with BMW Chairman Eberhard von Kuenheim, according to Automotive News.
 "BMW Chairman ... von Kuenheim (said) ... that the company is 80 percent of the way toward deciding to open a new production facility in the U.S.," U.S. Consul General Andrew G. Thoms Jr. in Munich says in a memo to the U.S. Embassy in Bonn.
 The Thoms memo, a copy of which was obtained by Automotive News, says the search for a plant site in the United States has been narrowed to four from 215, "with only South Carolina mentioned specifically."
 The Munich-based carmaker late last week confirmed the essence of the Thoms memo, but said no decision is likely to be made until mid- to late May, the trade paper said.
 According to the Thoms memo, von Kuenheim said that BMW plans to "build a specific model in the U.S. and would not duplicate production in Bavaria."
 Company sources confirmed last week that either a new entry-level car based on the 3 series or even a 3-series convertible or station wagon could be built outside Germany.
 Automotive News also reports in today's edition that U.S. new-car dealers are ignoring the mid-March sales downturn and building inventory for the spring selling season and a sales recovery they expect to begin very soon.
 Dozens of dealers interviewed by Automotive News last week reported ordering more cars and trucks than they did at this time last year. Some increased orders by 75 percent.
 Dealer optimism about the coming recovery varies by make and region. Chrysler Corp. and Ford Motor Co. dealers are generally more optimistic than General Motors dealers; Big 3 dealers are more optimistic than import dealers because there is more recovery room for most U.S. makes, the paper reports.
 Automotive News is published each Monday in Detroit by Crain Communications Inc., which publishes 25 business and consumer magazines and newspapers.
 -0- 3/30/92
 /CONTACT: Ed Lapham of Automotive News, 313-446-0339/ CO: Automotive News ST: Michigan IN: PUB AUT SU:


ML -- DE003 -- 2730 03/30/92 09:06 EST
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Date:Mar 30, 1992
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