Following the announcement that the joint venture Spotlight Automotive by BMW and Great Wall in China has received official approval for factory, BMW has now announced the official ground-breaking ceremony for the plant in Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province.
With around 3,000 employees, the plant will have a standard capacity of up to 160,000 vehicles per year after the start-up phase in 2022. Together, the two partners will invest around 650 million euros in the joint venture. According to the announcement, the construction phase is planned for 2020 to 2022.
The joint venture will produce future mini electric vehicles as well as several models and brands for Great Wall Motor – the contract was signed this summer. The Mini will also continue to be built at the main Oxford plant in the electric version, which will go on sale in 2020 – but Spotlight Automotive will offer additional capacity and flexibility, according to BMW.
CFO Nicolas Peter emphasized the strategic importance of Spotlight Automotive at the ceremony. “This German-Chinese relationship underscores our commitment to China and the future of premium compact electrified vehicles,” said Peter. “This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of MINI-brand-fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market”.
In Zhangjiagang, the vehicles will be produced jointly with Great Wall, but the joint venture will not establish an additional sales organization. Each joint venture partner will use its own sales channel for its specific brands, according to the BMW press release.
However, there is still a catch: according to the current approval, BMW will not be able to implement its plans for the electric mini in this form. So far, the authorities have only approved the joint development of battery electric cars at the site – only cars with combustion engines are allowed to be built there. According to Great Wall, the serial production of electric vehicles and their sale will however first require a separate permit.
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