BMW Builds a Plant for Electric Cars in China
Luxury German carmaker BMW on Friday said it would build fully electric models of its Mini cars at a new plant in China, as it kicked off a joint venture with Chinese partner Great Wall Motor.
About 160,000 vehicles are are set to roll off the assembly line at the planned factory in the city of Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu province, Tech Xplore reported. The plant will employ about 3,000 people. Construction of the plant is planned to continue from 2020 to 2022, according to a BMW news release quoted by AFP.
Both partners jointly invest 650 million euros ($ 715 million) in the project.
Along with the all-electric BMW Mini, the Chinese company will build some of its own models for the brand at the factory.
"This is another important step towards the Mini brand's electrified future," the statement said.
The BMW Group has already announced that it will begin production of the first all-electric version of the iconic compact car at its plant in Oxford, England this month.
The first Mini E models will be launched early next year.
Chinese ties emerge when BMW joins other global carmakers to accelerate the shift to electric and hybrid vehicles driven by environmental concerns.
The expensive pivot to the cleaner and more compact cars of tomorrow is hitting the carmakers hard as the global industry struggles with increasingly gloomy economic prospects.
China is the largest car market in the world, but after years of strong growth, car sales there dropped last year for the first time since the 1990s. The economic slowdown, the tensions in US-China trade, and China's crackdown on shady credit practices have all weighed on demand.
BMW board member Nicolas Peter said the Chinese joint venture, known as Spotlight Automotive Limited, underscored "the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us".
Worldwide, BMW aims to have more than one million all-electric vehicles and hybrids on the roads by the end of 2021.
Demand for its flagship BMW i3 electric car has jumped about 20% this year compared to 2018.
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