BMW Group Signs Deal to Build Electric Minis in China

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
bmw group signs deal to build electric minis in china

BMW Group has signed with Great Wall Motors to produce Mini-branded vehicles in China. This is the German automotive group’s second joint venture in the region and will not affect its current alliance with Brilliance Auto — which builds BMW models specifically equipped to appeal to the Chinese market.

The same will be true for the Mini deal with Great Wall, as the entirety of the production line will be electric vehicles. While the main reason for this is to ensure BMW hits its government-imposed quota for EVs, Great Wall said the venture would help it meet the needs of Chinese consumers and tap into the new energy vehicle market both home and abroad.

Mini has said a production version of the Mini Electric Concept won’t happen until November of 2019, but there’s been buzz that the automaker may seek widespread electrification after that. Interestingly, Chinese Minis will use a new platform developed by the joint venture, rather than rely on whatever architecture the Western-built EV adheres to. That’s two separate plug-in product lines. Will EV exclusivity be the future of the brand?

With automakers scrambling to meet strict new targets in China, — which has called for electric and rechargeable hybrid vehicles to account for a fifth of an automaker’s total sales by 2025 — BMW Group could be positioning Mini to assume the majority of the responsibility. However, as a separate marque with a completely different partner, it’s unlikely the Mini EVs will count toward the rest of the auto group’s total.

Instead, Mini might serve as a testbed to help BMW make up its mind on how to approach the Chinese rules. Larger companies will be expected to produce over a million plug-ins in just a couple of years to satisfy the new electrification and fuel economy requirements. The catch is, the consumer base doesn’t yet purchase enough of them to support those numbers. An automaker could be diving headlong into disaster if it isn’t totally prepared.

Reuters reported that the Chinese venture could start making the electric Mini in 2021 or 2022, adding it would also produce models under the Great Wall brand.

Analysts at Bernstein claim they were confused as to why BMW opted to have a minority stake in the deal. Holding less than than a 50-percent stake would give Great Wall rights to any intellectual property the two companies develop together. Neither company has been willing to elaborate further on the deal.

“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,” BMW said. It a separate statement, it also explained it would further expand its alliance with Brilliance.

[Image: BMW Group]

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2 of 5 comments
  • Tele Vision Tele Vision on Feb 23, 2018

    Great. A Mini with a huge back seat and a battery. Sign. Me. Up.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Mar 07, 2018

    1. To most folks, a Mini and a Fiat 500 look nearly identical. 2. In the US, EVs sell mostly in California. 3. California is already awash in Fiat 500e electrics, which can be leased new for peanuts or bought used for pocket change. 4. So since the new Mini EV was announced, I have been wondering, where on earth does Mini think they're going to sell it? Now we know: China! (But on a new platform...presumably engineered to omit the costly bits, such as safety and durability.)

  • Poltergeist Make sure you order the optional Dungdai fire suppression system.
  • Prabirmehta I charge my EV at home 100% of the time. The EV is used for in-town driving and the gas guzzling SUV is used for out of town trips. This results in a huge cost saving and rare trips to the gas station.
  • Conundrum Three cylinder Ford Escapes, Chevy whatever it is that competes, and now the Rogue. Great, ain't it? Toyota'll be next with a de-tuned GR Corolla/Yaris powerplant. It's your life getting better and better, yes indeed. A piston costs money, you know.The Rogue and Altima used to have the zero graviy foam front seats. Comfy, but the new Rogue dumps that advance. Costs money. And that color-co-ordinated gray interior, my, ain't it luvverly? Ten years after they perfected it in the first Versa to appeal to the terminally depressed, it graduates to the Rogue.There's nothing decent to buy on the market for normal money. Not a damn thing interests me at all.
  • Inside Looking Out It looks good and is popular in SF Bay Area.
  • Inside Looking Out Ford F150 IMHO. It is a true sports car on our freeways.