MINI’s fourth largest market offers up its greatest opportunity for expansion. That market is China, a country where automakers have been stepping over themselves to build up their part of the market share. The BMW Group announced a new joint venture in China to produce future electric MINI vehicles in the country. Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motor will be their local partner for the deal.
MINI already has plans to produce its first battery electric MINI at its main plant in Oxford starting in 2019. Shortly thereafter, Chinese production should begin. BMW Group already has a foothold in mainland China with its highly successful BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture with Chinese partner Brilliance. BBA already has two automotive production plants and a battery factory in Shenyang. This battery factory is the first ever to be operated by a premium automobile manufacturer in China.
Using this blueprint for success, the electrification of MINI in China could be a big deal for the brand. Last year MINI delivered about 35,000 units to China. With new electric models coming soon, MINI hopes to increase this number significantly over the next few years. To give some perspective, BMW delivered 560,000 vehicles in China last year.
BMW points out that despite expanding the brand in China, production has not decreased at the company’s German plants. In the last decade, German production has increased nearly 25 percent to 1.15 million cars per year. Despite nearly half of BMW production taking place at plants outside of Germany. I’m sure this should calm the folks over in Oxford for MINI. Don’t worry, the company isn’t planning to phase out U.K. production, instead to add to the overall volume within the Chinese factories.