Nearly a month ago, the BMW Group announced plans to invest $1 billion in the United States to add at least six electric SUVs to the Spartanburg assembly lines by the end of the decade. Another $700 million will be spent to build a new battery manufacturing plant in Woodruff, South Carolina. The company is also planning a major investment in China through its local BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd joint venture.
The announcement comes only one week after BMW chairman Oliver Zipse visited China as a member of the delegation of German companies, along with the country’s chancellor Olaf Scholz. The plan is to invest 10 billion yuan or $1.4 billion (€1.37 billion) at current exchange rates to boost battery production in the People’s Republic. The money will go into the expansion of the Lydia plant, which makes the batteries for the i3 Sedan and iX3 crossover built exclusively in China.
BMW’s production facilities in the Shenyang region are the Group’s largest in the world and have a maximum annual output of 830,000 vehicles. Plant Lydia was opened earlier this year as the place of birth for the 2023 i3, an electric sedan based on the locally produced long-wheelbase 3 Series LCI. The iX3 is assembled in Dadong, Shenyang from where it’s shipped to export markets.
It’s worth mentioning BMW has had a controlling stake in the joint venture since mid-February when it increased its shareholding in BMW Brilliance Automotive from 50% to 75%. This new major investment is a clear sign of the automaker’s long-term commitment to China and it also highlights its global EV expansion plans.
Approximately 53,000 electric cars have been sold by the BMW Group so far this year in the world’s most populous country, representing an increase of 65% compared to the same period of 2021. Production of the next-generation MINI Cooper SE electric hatchback will be relocated to China as part of a tie-up with Great Wall Motors, which will also assemble the Aceman electric crossover.