BMW and Great Wall to Build Electric MINIs

BMW AG and Great Wall Motors have signed a letter of intent to jointly build electric MINIs in China. If all goes to plan, Great Wall would be getting its first foreign manufacturing partner.

The pair has been in talks since April 2016, but this latest move sees them taking a step closer to realising the first MINI assembly site outside of Europe for the German automaker. China is a huge market for BMW; so big in fact that it sold almost 600,000 cars there, twice as many as it did on its home turf.

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“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 on Friday.

China is also the world’s largest market for electric vehicles, aided by the government’s ambition to accelerate the sales of battery cars, which it hopes would tremendously help in its battle to curb air pollution in its major cities.

Due to be out in the early 2020s, these vehicles would be different from the fully electric MINIs that the company plans to assemble at its Oxford site in 2019. The made-in-China MINIs will be built on a new platform to be developed by the joint venture.

Haval, an SUV brand under the GWM umbrella, has been nominated as one of the world’s 500 most valuable brands and it produces the best-selling line of SUVs in China. Early this year, GWM opened an R&D facility in Austria after similar operations in Japan, America and India. These R&D centres will focus on new energy vehicles and automobile parts, as well as new energy motors and controllers at its initial stage.

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