BMW Group has signed a joint venture letter of intent with the China-based manufacturer Great Wall Motor that will likely see local production of future electric MINi brand offerings in China occur, a new press release has revealed.
What this means in practice is that while production of the first plug-in all-electric MINI offering will begin in Oxford (UK) in 2019, production will also commence in China in the not too distant future.
In other words, BMW execs are trying to ensure that they get a piece of the pie when it comes to the booming plug-in electric vehicle market in China.
The press release provides more:
“Next steps will be to agree on the details of a possible joint venture and cooperation agreement and clarify aspects such as the choice of production location and concrete investments. The BMW Group has no plans to set up an additional sales organization in China. The company is firmly committed to continuing the successful cooperation with the established sales structure.
“Independently of its strategic considerations towards the MINI brand, the BMW Group will further expand its highly successful BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture in China with its partner, Brilliance. In addition to its two automobile production locations, BBA already runs an engine plant, which includes a battery factory for electrified BMW brand vehicles produced locally in Shenyang. This is the first battery factory operated by a premium automobile manufacturer in China.”
It’ll be interesting to see if BMW Group retains MINI production in the UK over the long term, or if it ends up focusing production around China. While the idea that production would inevitably shift to China sounds at first to have some merit, the reality seems to be that wages continue to rise in China (negating the advantage of doing so), Chinese production is an increasingly inward-looking affair as the country becomes more affluent, and the US and Western Europe have (arguably) begun to see their purchasing power flatline.
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