Photo of the pre-production X7 courtesy of BMW.

Photo of the pre-production X7 courtesy of BMW.

BMW has begun building pre-production models of its X7 luxury SUV that's set to arrive later this year so BMW can better compete with large luxury utility models.

BMW's X7 would likely go into a field that includes the Mercedes-Benz GLS, upcoming Audi Q8, Cadillac Escalade, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus LX, and Lincoln Navigator.

The three-row SUV will be built at BMW's plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, on the same platform as the X5 and X6. The plant also builds the X3 and X4. BMW will reportedly offer an optional V-12 engine.

BMW will begin testing the vehicle "under partially extreme conditions" in the desert of California's Death Valley as well as the ice and snow of Scandinavia, according to a release.

BMW's South Carolina manufacturing operation is it's largest global plant and produced more than 411,000 units in 2016.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet