BMW and Great Wall’s joint venture Spotlight Automotive, founded for the production of Mini electric vehicles in China, has now received regulatory approval for a joint factory. Despite the progress of the joint venture, permission to produce electric series vehicles at the plant has not yet been granted.
In August, there were rumours that the joint venture might be closed down. Great Wall had expressed doubts at the time as to whether the joint venture would receive the necessary approval for the construction of the planned production plant in Zhangjiagang in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu. Now, Great Wall has announced in a press release that this permit has been granted. The plant’s construction is scheduled to begin next year and be completed by 2022 with a total investment estimated to be around 5.1 billion yuan (approximately 660 million euros).
Chinese authorities have only granted Spotlight Automotive permission to produce 160,000 combustion-engined vehicles per year and to carry out research and development activities for electric vehicles, but not for series production of the latter. According to Great Wall, a separate permit must be obtained for the series production and sale of electric vehicles.
According to Reuters, BMW insists that the joint development and future local production of Mini battery-electric cars would remain the central focus of the cooperation. By 2021 at the latest, electric minis were supposed to be produced in Zhangjiagang – the “Rocketman” was even the latest to be the talk of a second E series.
In July 2018, BMW and Great Wall Motor signed an agreement for the production of Mini electric vehicles in China. This spring, initial details of future production capacity and investment volume was leaked about the planned China plant. At the time, Nikkei news site quoted Great Wall manager Wang Fengying as saying that BMW and Great Wall would pump 1.7 billion yuan (around 220 million euros) start capital into the joint venture.
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