LOS ANGELES – BMW of North America LLC doesn’t launch its ’04 6-Series coupe and convertible in the U.S. until March 26, but the company already is seeing strong interest.

The German auto maker expects to sell 7,000-10,000 6-Series cars annually in the U.S., although volumes will be limited to slightly more than 5,000 this year.

New BMW 6 Series

“Both (the coupe and convertible) will be introduced together,” says Thomas Jefferson, 6-Series, 7-Series and Z8 manager, at a media briefing here. “The first few months (of volumes) are already sold out.”

Jefferson expects the 6-Series to compete against the Mercedes-Benz SL and CLK, as well as the Lexus SC 430, Jaguar XK and Cadillac XLR. He also expects the car to encroach on the Porsche 911 and the Maserati Spyder and Coupe.

While sales are expected to be evenly split between the coupe and convertible this year, Jefferson says the convertible likely will account for as much as 70% of sales longer term.

BMW says the 6-Series is not meant to be a niche product like the Z8, which sold approximately 5,000 cars worldwide during its run. Jefferson says the 6-Series should be around for six or seven years, as is typical for a BMW series vehicle. Keep an eye out for an M6 performance version in another two years, Jefferson hints.

“If there were going to be an M6, it would come around 24 months after the production car, as is typical of BMW’s tradition,” he says.

BMW rules out the possibility of selling a 6-cyl. 6-Series in the U.S., which is powered by a standard 4.4L V-8. The 6-cyl. only will be sold in Europe.

The 645Ci coupe will base at $69,995 and the 645Ci convertible at $76,995. Options include a sport package ($2,800), premium sound package ($1,800), cold-weather package ($700) and a heads-up display ($1,500), which first debuted on the 5-Series.