German luxury automaker BMW is seeking to establish a joint venture with China’s Great Wall Motor. The prospective deal focuses specifically on electric vehicles, according to sources familiar with the matter. A cooperative relationship with Great Wall would be BMW’s second in the world’s largest auto market – and a necessary one, as China forces all foreign automakers to team up with local partners in order to do business within the country.
Great Wall Motor Co. is China’s largest SUV maker by volume, and witnessed a nearly 20-percent rise in its share price on Wednesday after Asian media outlets reported it was in talks to partner with BMW.
The relationship between the United States and Russia over the past hundred years or so would put any soap-opera romance to shame. Russia was the enemy in the 1930s, then it was an ally, then it was the enemy. When I was a kid in the ’70s, the Soviet Union was absolutely the enemy and we all expected that someday there would be war between the countries. Despite a concerned media effort to paint McCarthy, Nixon, et al as panicked morons swinging at shadows, most of us figured the Soviet Union did, in fact, regularly attempt to interfere in American affairs. (Turns out McCarthy was as right as he was wrong, maybe more so.) Sure, you had the committed leftists who were willing to take a “honeymoon” there, but they were few and far between.
After the fall of the Iron Curtain, Russia-US relations enjoyed a thaw. It didn’t last. Now the same political left that excused Stalin’s purges is clutching its pearls over Crimea, while the right-wingers who used to seriously discuss a nuclear-equipped preemptive strike against Moscow see Mr. Putin as a sort of fun-loving, horse-riding fellow who has the guts to drive an F1 car in wet conditions.
This is the sort of stark dichotomy that tends to cause trouble if left untended. Luckily, there’s something that can be done about it.
Max Warburton and his team. Warburton, of Bernstein Research, assembled a team to interview over 40 auto executives in China (both Chinese and foreign-born) and even bought two Chinese vehicles from Geely and Great Wall. Warburton had them shipped to Europe, where they were taken to a test track, driven extensively and then taken apart by engineers and automotive consultants. And it was far from pretty.
BMW can’t make cars fast enough in China. Chinese customers must suffer through interminably long delivery times for their imported Siebener. To solve this problem, BMW is building a second production plant in China together with its joint venture partner Brilliance, to be opened in 2012. The plant is already too small.
Remember the Brilliance A3 SUV that the German press called “a brazen BMW X1 rip-off, with inspirations from Audi?” After BMW spokesman Frank Strebe said that the matter would be taken up with their joint venture partner Brilliance, Strebe had said: “Maybe the vehicle won’t be at the show.”
If you are a respectable auto manufacturer, better don’t show up at the Shanghai Auto Show (open to the public on April 21) without an EV or at least a hybrid. Not that there is a huge demand. Despite lavish subsidies (in Beijing, I could collect $9,000 from the government for driving an EV, an amount the city will supposedly double – a moot point if I don’t get lucky in the license plate lottery), where was I, despite lavish subsidies, the take rate in China remains minuscule.
Wharton says that ”EV sales today account for only 0.06% of all vehicle sales in China.” Hybrids? Google leaves us in the dark. This does not discourage consultants from McKinsey on down from promising that China will be a bonanza for new energy vehicles. On top of that, the government wants it. One of the many companies to show up with a green car in Shanghai is BMW.
Like most manufacturers, BMW is getting ready for the pilgrimage to Shanghai, where the Shanghai Motor Show will open its doors to the press on April 19, and to the public on April 21. Some at BMW go with mixed feelings. There will be some delicate discussions between BMW brass and their Chinese joint venture partner Brilliance. The reason: At Asia’s and possibly the world’s most important auto show, Brilliance will show their A3 SUV. Germany’s Auto Bild calls it “a brazen BMW X1 rip-off, with inspirations from Audi.”
The matter becomes even more touchy as BMW plans to produce the X1 in China with a launch date in 2012. It will be built by BMW’s Chinese joint venture with Brilliance.
Are you a top talent in the international auto market? Looking for a job? Why not give Brilliance a call? They are looking for 70 top talents globally, Gasgoo reports. Ever since Brilliance’s former General Manager Liu Zhigang and several other executives deserted to Huaitai Auto, there have been major openings at Brilliance. Qi Yumin, President of Brilliance Auto said that these positions will be filled.
In January, the Chinese government had warned its (mostly government-owned) car companies to go easy on capacity expansion. Car sales in China were expected to show more sedate numbers than last year’s torrid growth rate of 45 percent. Sales did not follow government orders. In the first four months of 2010, Chinese car sales grew 60.51 percent. Now finally, the government can say “we told you so.” China’s car dealers sit on a mountain of unsold cars.
Those Chinese sure are tenacious. After European Brilliance importer HSO went bankrupt last November, after Brilliance wrote a whopping loss for 2009 while the Chinese market went through the roof, after Brilliance announced that they had stopped all exports to Europe (there wasn’t much to stop,) one would have thought that China’s Brilliance thoroughly had it with exporting to Europe or any of the first world countries. But no …
We knew Brilliance’s plan to export 158,000 sedans to Europe had taken a bit of a beating when the Chinese automaker’s European export partner folded back in November. Even before then, the ADAC’s now-infamous crash tests of Briliance’s BS6 and BS4 seemed likely to doom the brand’s early attempt at the European market. And now, according to Reuters, it’s official. Brilliance execs admit:
We have stopped exports to Europe. For now, we have no timetable for resuming the business
2009 was a great year for China’s auto makers with a record growth of 45 percent that propelled the market to 13.6 million units and gave it unassailable #1 status. It wasn’t all roses for everybody. For China’s Brilliance, joint venture partner of BMW, 2009 was downright rotten.
Starting January 1, 2010, Chinese buyers will get the rare chance to buy a genuine, Made-in-München (or Regensburg) BMW 3 Series at the price of a Made-in-Shenyang BMW 3 Series, while the Chinese BMW/Brilliance joint venture updates its production facilities.
BMW Brilliance will import BMW 3 Series in large quantities starting January 1, 2010. The BMW venture in China will stop manufacturing the series temporarily to upgrade its production line, Gasgoo reports.
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- Theflyersfan One positive: doesn't appear to have a sunroof. So you won't need to keep paper towels in the car.But there's a serious question to ask this seller - he has less than 40,000 miles on some major engine work, and the transmission and clutch work and mods are less than 2 months old...why are you selling? That's some serious money in upgrades and repairs, knowing that the odds of getting it back at the time of sale is going to be close to nil. This applies to most cars and it needs to be broadcasted - these kinds of upgrades and mods are really just for the current owner. At the time of sale, a lot of buyers will hit pause or just won't pay for the work you've done. Something just doesn't sit well with me and this car. It could be a snowbelt beast and help save the manuals and all that, but a six year old VW with over 100,000 miles normally equals gremlins and electrical issues too numerous to list. Plus rust in New England. I like it, but I'd have to look for a crack pipe somewhere if the seller thinks he's selling at that price.
- 2ACL I can't help feeling that baby is a gross misnomer for a vehicle which the owner's use necessitated a (manual!) transmission rebuild at 80,000 miles. An expensive lesson in diminishing returns I wouldn't recommend to anyone I know.
- El scotto Rumbling through my pantry and looking for the box of sheets of aluminum foil. More alt right comments than actual comments on international trade policy. Also a great deal of ignorance about the global oil industry. I'm a geophysicist and I pay attention such things. Best of all we got to watch Tassos go FULL BOT on us.
- El scotto No one and I mean no one on here is a UAW member or a salaried employee of the Big 3. Then again if someone identified themselves on here they would pilloried every time they posted.The comments on here are like listening to the overgrown children who call into sports radio shows.
- Statikboy Those tires are the Wrong Size.