High-level representatives of the local Chinese government, Great Wall Motor, and the BMW Group announced on November 29, 2019, that a new joint venture, Spotlight Automotive Limited, will produce the MINI E electric car in China. The partners congregated earlier in Germany to initiate the collaboration. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin cast much décor and political approval on the collaboration, which was officially signed in Berlin in the summer of 2018.
The city of Zhangjiagang in China’s Jiangsu Province will be the location of the new automotive plant. The interesting contrast of auto companies working together for a purposeful plan is inspiring.
The two companies together will provide a nice addition to the world of small EVs. The joint plant in China is to produce entirely electric small EVs, starting with the BMW Group MINI E model. The investment is split equally, a 50:50 joint venture agreement. Following the start with MINI E, Spotlight Automotive intends to produce several models and brands for Great Wall Motor.
“The plant will have a standard capacity of up to 160,000 vehicles per year, which will require around 3,000 employees after the ramp-up phase,” a press release notes.
The total investment is approximately €650 million (more than 5 billion CNY), and construction is expected to take place from 2020 to 2022.
The new first-generation fully electric MINI will first be built in Oxford, UK, with the car hitting the market in the first quarter of next year, 2020. “MINI Plant Oxford, which recently built the 10 millionth car since the brand’s launch in 1959, will remain the heart and home of MINI manufacturing.”
Spotlight Automotive Limited’s plant will yield more flexibility and productivity, of course, as well as lower costs for the Asian and Oceanic markets.
For those of you who don’t understand the charm of the ever so small MINI, imagine a more modern version of the car in the clip below, including with the extra torque of an all-electric car. (There’s also a longer and higher-quality version of a MINI car chase starting at 2:00 in this video.)
China is the world’s largest market for electro-mobility, so it is not surprising to see a factory like this planned for the Chinese market. Expect many more such announcements in the years to come.
“By the end of 2021, the company aims to have more than one million fully-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the roads worldwide,” BMW reports, and many of those will be in China. “By 2023, the company will already offer 25 electrified models – more than half of which will be fully electric.”
Dr. Nicolas Peter, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Finance, stressed the strategic importance of the cooperation with the Chinese partner: “The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us.”