BMW may make Mini brand out­side Europe in new China tie-up

The Star Malaysia - StarBiz - - Front Page -

BEI­JING: BMW AG is work­ing on a deal that would bring man­u­fac­tur­ing of the iconic Mini brand out­side Europe for the first time, ac­cord­ing to peo­ple with knowl­edge of the plan.

The Ger­man com­pany is dis­cussing a pos­si­ble out­sourc­ing agree­ment with China’s Great Wall Mo­tor Co to pro­duce the small car for ex­port, said the peo­ple, ask­ing not to be iden­ti­fied as the de­lib­er­a­tions are pri­vate.

The Bri­tish-de­signed ve­hi­cle, first built to tackle soar­ing fuel prices in the late 1950s, has evolved over the years and the ve­hi­cles are now pro­duced in the UK and the Netherlands.

Af­ter suc­cess­fully re­viv­ing the brand – sell­ing more than 230,000 cars in the first eight months of the year – BMW is now pre­par­ing to add an elec­tric ver­sion for the first time.

Like its ri­vals, BMW is nav­i­gat­ing a costly shift to mak­ing elec­tric cars as gov­ern­ments around the world crack down on pol­lu­tion and im­pose curbs on fos­sil fu­els.

In July, the Mu­nich-based com­pany chose Ox­ford, Eng­land, for the elec­tric Mini, pass­ing al­ter­na­tives in Ger­many and the Netherlands.

Af­ter China last month or­dered most au­tomak­ers to sell a min­i­mum num­ber of new-en­ergy ve­hi­cles start­ing 2019, BMW said it is fully com­mit­ted to pro­mot­ing elec­tric mo­bil­ity in the coun­try.

An agree­ment on lo­cal pro­duc­tion of the Mini for ex­ports would boost the prospects of Great Wall, whose shares surged 14% on Wed­nes­day fol­low­ing spec­u­la­tion of a joint ven­ture with BMW. That prompted the Chi­nese maker to suspend trad­ing yes­ter­day.

BMW al­ready builds cars lo­cally in a ven­ture with Bril­liance China Au­to­mo­tive Hold­ings Ltd. Sales of BMW and Mini cars in the Asian coun­try rose 16% in the first eight months of the year to 383,976 units.

China’s pas­sen­ger-ve­hi­cle sales rose 3.3% to 2.34 mil­lion units last month, data showed.

The Ger­man man­u­fac­turer has out­lined plans for at least 12 fully elec­tric cars by 2025. Those in­clude bat­tery-pow­ered vari­ants of main­stream mod­els like the X3 SUV as well as the fu­tur­is­tic, self-driv­ing iNext.

To help pay for the suite of new mod­els, the com­pany is ex­pand­ing its top line of lux­ury ve­hi­cles as well as adding the full-size X7 sport util­ity ve­hi­cle.

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