Great Wall con­firms talks with BMW for ‘Mini’ in China

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By LI FUSHENG li­fusheng@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Great Wall Mo­tor Co has con­firmed that it is in talks with BMW to pro­duce the lat­ter’s Mini brand cars in China, which an­a­lysts see as a pre­lude to the Ger­man car­maker’s at­tempt to seize greater suc­cess in its largest mar­ket.

The talks are in a pre­lim­i­nary stage and the com­pa­nies have not en­tered into any le­gal agree­ment to es­tab­lish a joint ven­ture in China, Great Wall said in a state­ment to the Hong Kong stock ex­change on Fri­day.

Great Wall said the two signed a deal in early 2016 to ex­plore the fea­si­bil­ity of de­vel­op­ing and pro­duc­ing elec­tric and tra­di­tional cars and then another in Fe­bru­ary this year re­gard­ing Mini car co­op­er­a­tion.

BMW now has a joint ven­ture with Bril­liance China Au­to­mo­tive Hold­ing, with the con­tract to ex­pire by 2028, while Great Wall is among the few Chi­nese au­tomak­ers with­out an in­ter­na­tional car­mak­ing part­ner.

Pa­trick Yuan, an an­a­lyst at Jef­feries Hong Kong, said it is un­der­stand­able that BMW is seek­ing a new part­ner in a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket like China.

“We be­lieve Bril­liance is only a fi­nan­cial in­vestor in the joint ven­ture, con­tribut­ing lit­tle to BMW’s suc­cess in China.”

BMW sold 383,976 cars in

China from Jan­uary to Au­gust, rep­re­sent­ing 16 per­cent growth, and com­ing sec­ond to its long-time ri­val MercedesBenz.

Yuan said the suc­cess of Audi in forg­ing a sec­ond joint ven­ture in the coun­try ear­lier this year fur­ther boosts the con­fi­dence of BMW man­age­ment.

Yale Zhang, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Shang­hai-based

con­sult­ing firm Au­to­mo­tive Fore­sight, said Great Wall is more ef­fi­cient than BMW’s cur­rent part­ner Bril­liance China Au­to­mo­tive in both pro­duc­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties and ex­pand­ing sales chan­nels.

He be­lieves that the Mini brand cars, be­cause of their small num­ber, might serve as an “ap­pe­tizer”, and that other mod­els might fol­low if the project goes smoothly.

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