After months of negotiations BMW and Great Wall Motor have signed an agreement to produce the electric MINI through a 50/50 joint venture based in China. Virtually identical to the electric MINI to he built in the UK, this Chinese MINI also meant specifically to meet new Chinese electric vehicle production requirements and expected Chinese demand.
In other words this is another move by BMW that is following a strategy built on the principle that production follows the market. By that rule, a move like this means that increasing production in a market like China does not lead to a corresponding decrease in production in other plants, but rather the reverse. For example, although BMW production in China and the USA increased significantly between 2007 and 2017, production in Germany during that time also grew by almost a quarter, to around 1.15 million vehicles a year. A similar expansion strategy could therefore accelerate development of the MINI brand significantly ultimately helping the MINI brand, it’s sales and UK production. Given BMW’s significant investments in the UK, it would seem that BMW is banking on that affect happening again.
Official release: During an event for autonomous and connected driving attended by China’s Premier Li Keqiang and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, the BMW Group and Great Wall Motor committed to found a new joint venture, “Spotlight Automotive Limited”, for the development and production of electric vehicles in China. As well as MINI electric vehicles, the joint venture will also produce electric vehicles for Great Wall Motor. The establishment of the new company is subject to approval from the relevant Chinese authorities and the completion of business registration procedures. The joint venture will be located in Jiangsu Province, where both partners will together create a new state-of-the-art production facility.
The production of future battery-electric MINI vehicles in China, the world’s largest market for electromobility, is a key element of MINI’s continued strategic development within the BMW Group’s Strategy NUMBER ONE > NEXT. Today’s move follows the “letter of intent” signed with Great Wall Motor on 23 February 2018. It is another significant step towards the electrified future of the MINI brand, coming in addition to start-of-production next year of the first battery electric MINI at the brand’s main plant in Oxford.
“Today’s signing represents a new level of cooperation between China and Germany,” said Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG, during the signing ceremony. “This strategic partnership is a clear win-win for the BMW Group and Great Wall Motor, enabling us to contribute to China’s ambitious plans to ramp-up new energy vehicles and reduce emissions in the mobility sector,” elaborated Krüger.
The joint venture agreement was signed by Wei Jianjun, Founder and Chairman of Great Wall Motor, and Klaus Fröhlich, Member of Board of Management BMW AG for Development. “The strengths and expertise of both companies complement each other well,” said Fröhlich. “Our experience as a pioneer and leader in the field of electrification, coupled with Great Wall Motor’s proven track-record in efficient industrialisation, enables us together to drive the growth of the largest e-mobility market in the world,” Fröhlich continued. “With our joint approach, we can quickly scale up production and increase efficiency in the highly competitive segment of compact electric vehicles.”
“Today’s signing opens a new chapter in Sino-German cooperation,” stated Wei Jianjun. “Great Wall Motor and the BMW Group share a commitment to promote new energy vehicles. With the combined strength of both partners, our new joint venture will accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles,” Wei continued.
The BMW Group is firmly committed to continuing the successful cooperation with the established sales structure and channels in China and has no plans to set up an additional sales organisation in China for future MINI electric vehicles from this joint venture. The joint venture’s activities will focus on the development, procurement and production of electric vehicles for the Chinese market.
As announced yesterday, the BMW Group will also further expand its highly successful BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture in China with its partner, Brilliance. In recent years, BBA has become a cornerstone of the BMW brand’s success in its largest market. Around 560,000 BMW brand vehicles were delivered to customers in China in 2017 – more than in the next two largest markets, the US and Germany, combined. Two-thirds of all BMW vehicles sold in China last year were produced by BBA. In 2017, China was MINI’s fourth-largest market, with around 35,000 units delivered. This underlines the brand’s additional global potential, which will now be significantly supported through the joint venture with Great Wall Motor.