China’s growing appetite for EVs has BMW Group making a move that will see them band together with China’s Great Wall Group to build a state-of-the-art EV factory in Jiangsu Province.
The signing of the agreement follows closely on the heels of Elon Musk’s announcement that Tesla has inked a deal with Chinese authorities to build an auto factory there.
While Australians sit by and wait for the introduction of affordable, compact EVs like the Kia Niro, the 50:50 partnership will see BMW further their reach into the electric vehicle market in a country that is already a world leader in electric mobility.
The newly signed joint venture “Spotlight Automotive Limited” will manufacture the recently unveiled BMW electric MINI as well as EVs for the Great Wall Motor company.
The agreement, which follows up a letter of intent signed on the 23rd of February, is not BMW’s only venture within China.
BMW have already delivered 560,000 BMW brand vehicles in 2017 alone, as part of a highly successful alliance with China’s Brilliance.
Of the 560,000, two thirds were built by the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture, and 35,000 of those sold were MINIs, making China the 4th largest market for the iconic vehicle.
The figures suggest that the new agreement has great potential.
Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG says that, “Today’s signing represents a new level of cooperation between China and Germany.”
“This strategic partnership is a clear win-win for the BMW Group and Great Wall Motor, enabling us to contribute to China’s ambitious plans to ramp-up new energy vehicles and reduce emissions in the mobility sector,” he continues.
The JV agreement was also signed by Wei Jianjun, Founder and Chairman of Great Wall Motor, and Klaus Fröhlich, Member of Board of Management BMW AG for Development.
Fröhlich says that the partnership will enable both BMW Group and Great Wall Motor to be an integral driver of growth in one the globe’s largest electric mobility markets, and will allow the group to scale up production quickly.
“The strengths and expertise of both companies complement each other well,” says Fröhlich.
Wei Jianjun agrees. “Today’s signing opens a new chapter in Sino-German cooperation,” Wei Jianjun stated. “Great Wall Motor and the BMW Group share a commitment to promote new energy vehicles.
While Wei Jianjun says that they hope the joint venture will increase the adoption of EVs in China’s, BMW assures that the joint venture will not mean less cars being manufactured at its MINI plant in Oxford.
“With the combined strength of both partners, our new joint venture will accelerate the uptake of electric vehicles,” says Wei Jianjun.
The agreement was signed during an event for autonomous and connected driving which was attended by China’s Premier Li Keqiang and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
The establishment of the new company, Spotlight Automotive Limited, will be cemented once relevant Chinese authorities approve its creation and business registration procedures are completed.
BMW Australia were contacted to discover when Australian can get their hands on an EV MINI but as yet there are no plans to bring to Australia.
However, at last week’s MINI model update launch, BMW Group Australia CEO Marc Werner did confirm that Australia will take the next step towards electrification. He confirmed that Australia will take the MINI Countryman Cooper S E All4 plug-in hybrid in the first half of 2019.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.