LOS ANGELES – BMW AG will bring two versions of its 1-Series to North America.

“It’s up to you to speculate what those might be,” Tom Purves, chairman and CEO BMW U.S. Holding Corp. tells Ward’s on the sidelines of the L.A. Auto Show here.

“But they will be very attractive,” he adds. “They will have high-performance engines and the size of those vehicles will be almost identically the same as the old (BMW) 2002. Because if you look at our 3-Series, it’s grown up in size and stature, and it leaves room for us to have a smaller car between the Mini and the 3-Series.”

Previously, BMW has said it would sell a sedan version of the 1-Series in the U.S., not the hatchback model that’s offered in Europe. Reports have suggested the second model would be either a 2-door coupe or convertible.

Purves does not give a timeline except to say the 1-Series will appear in “a couple years’ time.”

The rear-drive, 5-door 1-Series was introduced in Europe in 2004.

With entry-luxury small and midsize cars gaining popularity due to higher gas prices, the German auto maker now believes the time is right for the 1-Series in the U.S., Purves says.

“A smaller car at a lower price point gives us an opportunity to stay in touch with younger customers,” he says.

The same business logic could lead to a model below the current X3 cross/utility vehicle.

“If we saw an opportunity for something smaller than (the X3), then obviously we’d seek to fill the gap,” Purves says.

BMW plans to boost production at its Spartanburg, SC, plant next year, he says. Output this year was hampered due to a changeover in January to a flexible manufacturing system.

Also limiting Spartanburg production this year were the introduction of the Z4 Coupe and the model changeover for the all-new ’08 X5, which is making its public debut here.

“We’re just starting the ramp-up now (for) the X5, and it’ll come up to full volume the early part of next year,” Purves says.

“We also need to manufacture and sell more cars here in the U.S. as a natural hedge for currency reasons. So these things are coming at quite a good time for us,” he adds.

scanderson@wardsauto.com