BMW is reported to be considering a manufacturing joint venture with China’s Great Wall. Quoting an BMW executive, Reuters reports that the new plant would be opened in the city of Changshu. However, it remains unclear how far talks have gone, or whether it has approval from the Chinese government—which wants foreign car-makers to team up with local partners.
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“I don’t know how far along we have gone nailing this deal,” or whether the two companies have official central government approval for the JV or not, said the executive, who was not authorized to speak on the matter and declined to be identified.
Another person familiar with the matter said the new joint venture would not deal with gasoline or diesel powered cars, indicating a focus on electric vehicles was likely. Great Wall have also expressed an interest in the Jeep brand of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and it is one of China’s largest automakers.
BMW is currently partnering with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings to produce a series of vehicles specific to the Chinese market, among them the 1 Series Sedan, X1 long wheelbase and the 5 Series Li.
A BMW spokesman said the company “won’t comment on speculation.”
“Our business development with the joint venture BMW Brilliance Automotive will continue as planned, and we will carry on to invest and develop our joint venture,” the spokesman said.
BMW’s China sales grew 11 percent last year and it is the country’s second-largest premium brand after Audi. Analysts believe that the new venture of BMW and Great Wall would have to sell exclusively electric vehicles, given China’s moratorium on approvals for new gasoline car businesses.