BMW and China’s Great Wall Motor have announced a partnership to produce electric Minis in China.
Both organisations said their venture, Spotlight Automotive, will also make electrics for the Chinese partner’s brand, although no other product details have been divulged at this point.
Mini’s new battery-powered hatch is also due to be produced at its main British factory in Oxford in 2019, according to BMW.
The production vehicle will be inspired by the Mini Electric Concept that was revealed at last year’s Frankfurt Motor Show and will be sold in various markets around the globe.
Carmakers are pouring billions into creating electric vehicles for China, which is the biggest market for the technology.
Beijing is using access to its market as leverage to induce global automakers to help Chinese brands develop battery and other technology. Car brands in China are required to make electric vehicles at least 10 percent of their sales starting next year or buy credits from competitors that exceed their quotas. Later, they face pressure to raise those sales in order to satisfy fuel efficiency requirements that increase annually.
Sales of pure-electric passenger vehicles in China rose 82 percent last year to 468 000, according to an industry group, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. That was more than double the US level of just under 200 000.
Other carmakers including General Motors, Volkswagen and Nissan have announced similar plans with Chinese partners to produce dozens of electric models.
Great Wall, headquartered in Baoding, southwest of Beijing, sells more than 1 million SUVs a year.
“With our joint approach, we can quickly scale up production and increase efficiency,” said Klaus Frolich, a BMW board member, in a statement.
China is BMW’s biggest market, with around 560 000 units sold last year, which is more than its next two markets – the US and Germany -combined.
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