The BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture in China exclusively builds the iX3 for the whole world. The electric crossover is assembled at BBA’s factory in Shenyang and ships the zero-emission version of the X3 to many global markets. From 2024, BMW’s separate tie-up with Great Wall Motor, the Spotlight Automotive joint venture, will begin exporting the new electric MINI Cooper as well as the forthcoming MINI Aceman from the Zhangjiagang plant.
In an interview with Automotive News Europe, Chief Financial Officer Walter Mertl warned the European Union’s possible decision to impose high tariffs on China-made cars sold in Europe could ultimately backfire. The CFO said the EU investigation might have a direct impact on all global automakers active in China. According to Reuters, an official statement made by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) described the EU’s plan as an “obvious act of protectionism.”
BMW has already been asked by the EU to fill out a questionnaire regarding the iX3 that has to be sent back within a week. The German luxury brand must provide information pertaining to manufacturing capacities and investments linked to the EV made in China and exported to global markets. In 2022, as many as 20,000 iX3s were shipped internationally. With the new electric MINI Cooper and Aceman crossover to be built in the country, the number will substantially grow in 2024.
Mertl said imposing tariffs on vehicles manufactured in China for export markets could result in a “backlash, like a boomerang,” adding it could end up “bigger than what one imagined.” He was referring to how the local authorities could respond following a potential decision taken by the EU, which currently isn’t too happy with having to subsidize EVs made there.
It’s worth noting that BMW isn’t the only brand in this predicament as SAIC’s MG also ships cars to Europe. Another relevant example is the Renault-owned Dacia brand, which makes the low-cost Spring electric hatchback in China and sells it in the EU.