​BMW Group partners Great Wall Motor for electric MINI models in China

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 29 Nov 2019


BMW Group and Great Wall Motor are building a joint plant in China to produce future fully-electric models of its MINI brand. High-level representatives of the local Chinese government, Great Wall Motor and the BMW Group also announced the launch of the new joint venture, Spotlight Automotive. Both partners will together invest around 650 million Euro (more than five billion CNY/Rs 5,139 crore). The construction phase is planned for 2020 to 2022.

According to the BMW Group, 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. The plant will come up in the city of Zhangjiagang in China’s Jiangsu province.

Apart from production, the innovative joint venture model also includes joint development of battery-electric vehicles in the world’s largest market for electromobility. The joint venture envisages production of future electric MINI vehicles, as well as several models and brands for Great Wall Motor. Following the launch of the brand-new first-generation fully-electric MINI, which will be built at Oxford and come to market in the first quarter of 2020, this is another important step towards the MINI brand’s electrified future. 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, while the Spotlight Automotive joint venture will provide additional capacity and flexibility. The joint venture will not be creating an additional sales organisation in China for future electric vehicles. Every joint venture partner will use their own sales channel for their specific brands.

Klaus Frohlich, member of the board of management of BMW, responsible for development, said at the official ceremony to mark the inauguration of Spotlight Automotive: “Today we are taking the next step in our collaboration: With the BMW Group as a pioneer in the field of electromobility and Great Wall as a major player and expert in industrialisation in the Chinese market, we are joining forces for development and production of the future electric MINI and new Great Wall models.”

Dr Nicolas Peter, member of the Board of Management of BMW, responsible for finance, stressed the strategic importance of the cooperation with the Chinese partner: "This German-Chinese relationship underscores our commitment to China and the future of premium compact electrified vehicles. This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of MINI-brand-fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market. This is also an important strategic step for the MINI brand. The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us.”

By the end of 2021, BMW aims to have more than one million fully-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids on the roads worldwide. BMW Group will offer five fully-electric production vehicles. Apart from the popular BMW i3 and the upcoming fully-electric MINI which will immediately begin productions in Oxford, production of the fully-electric BMW iX3 will begin at the Shenyang plant (China), followed in 2021 by the BMW iNEXT, which will be built at the Dingolfing plant (Germany). BMW i4 is also due to go into series production at the Munich plant in 2021. By 2023, the company will already offer 25 electrified models – more than half of which will be fully electric.

In summer 2018, the 50:50 joint venture agreement was signed in Berlin in the presence of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.