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TheStreet Open House

6 Top New Cars At Detroit Auto Show

2012 BMW 3-Series
Congrats to Cadillac for unveiling the ATS, but the competition is not exactly standing still.

Hours after Cadillac unveiled the ATS, BMW showed its 2012 3-Series, which is faster, roomier and more fuel efficient than its predecessor.

The car will go on sale in February and will be available in a hybrid.

"BMW has taken very few risks with the car that accounts for a third of its total sales," said Edmunds' InsideLine.com contributor Michael Taylor. "Such is the planning in Munich that the 3 Series shares parts with other family members, both lesser and greater."

BMW had a good year in 2011, posting its best sales results ever as worldwide sales rose 14%, to 1.7 million. In the U.S, a 15% December sales increase enabled BMW to surpass Mercedes as the No. 1 luxury brand, with annual sales of 247,907. The two had battled to replace Lexus as the top luxury brand in the U.S.

"BMW Group sales momentum has been increasing all year and this new burst of consumer confidence filled our dealer showrooms, putting BMW over the top," said Ludwig Willisch, CEO for BMW of North America, in a statement as December results were announced -- a bit late because initially BMW and Mercedes hesitated to report sales, given the intensely close competition.

BMW announced Thursday that it will spend $900 million to expand its Spartanburg, S.C., plant, enabling it to build 350,000 vehicles a year, many of them for export. The plant produces the BMW X3, X5, and X6 SUVs.

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