BMW, Great Wall confirm Chinese Mini production talks

Mini Clubman FBN

Luxury German carmaker BMW is in talks to produce its Mini models in China in partnership with Great Wall Motor Co., the Chinese carmaker said on Friday.

The carmakers have been discussing plans to launch electric and conventional Mini models for 18 months, Great Wall said in a stock exchange filing that described the talks as preliminary. BMW said it planned to grow the Mini brand in China with a new local partner, without naming Great Wall.

Great Wall’s shares had surged 14 percent on Wednesday and were later suspended after Reuters reported that it was discussing a joint venture with the German premium manufacturer, focused on electric vehicles. Trading in the stock will resume on Monday, the company said.

Automakers and suppliers are scrambling to meet tough new official Chinese quotas for zero-emission cars, which call for electric and rechargeable hybrid vehicles to account for 20 percent of total sales by 2025.

BMW, which already has one Chinese manufacturing venture with Brilliance, is launching European production of an electric Mini at its British plant near Oxford in 2019.

If successfully concluded, the BMW-Great Wall talks could yield a first foreign manufacturing partner for Great Wall and a first Mini assembly site outside Europe for the German group.

The Mini brand’s planned expansion in China “does not call into question our commitment to our facilities in Britain”, BMW said in a statement. “It is only possible to accelerate growth of Mini in China with a local partner.”