BMW Automotive Group (BMW AG) and Great Wall Motor (GWM) on Friday launched their joint venture company Spotlight Automotive Limited with a ground-breaking ceremony, signalling their next step in producing electricity-operated vehicles under the MINI brand in China.
The launch comes a year after both companies signed an agreement in Berlin, Germany — in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang — to build an automotive plant in the city of Zhangjiagang in China’s Jiangsu Province. At that time both companies agreed to invest €650 million — or 5.1 billion Chinese yuan — in the building of the plant with a 50:50 ratio.
According to Klaus Fröhlich, a member of the board of management of BMW AG, responsible for development, the event on Friday marked the next milestone in the “collaboration” between BMW AG and Great Wall Motor
Speaking at the official ceremony to mark the inauguration of Spotlight Automotive in the Chinese province, Fröhlich told officials of the Chinese Government and high-level representatives of both companies that “we are joining forces for the development and production of the future electric MINI and new Great Wall models”.
The plant will have a standard capacity of building 160,000 vehicles per year and will require the employment of over 3,000 workers. The construction phase is planned for 2020 to 2022
In addition to the production of vehicles, the joint venture will focus on integrating technology, resource and management advantages of both parties to develop new models of battery-electric vehicles in the world’s largest market. As such, “the Spotlight Automotive joint venture will provide additional capacity and flexibility” to BMW AG, a press release from that company states.
“… in-depth cooperation between [BMW and GWM] in brand building, management system, production and manufacture, and technology R&D, will exploit a broader market, thus accelerating the globalisation and new energy development…
By integrating both companies’ advantages, the joint venture will also help BMW AG and GWM to broaden their reach in international markets.
“This cooperation is a powerful supplement to BMW’s global strategy for new energy vehicles and to the GWM ‘s international strategy, and is a definitely strong alliance of power. In the future, in-depth cooperation between both parties in brand building, management system, production and manufacture, and technology R&D, will exploit a broader market, thus accelerating the globalisation and new energy development,” a press release on GWM’s website states.
During the press conference following the ceremony, Dr Nicolas Peter, a member of BMW AG’s board of management, responsible for finance, underscored the strategic importance of the partnership with Great Wall Motor.
“This German-Chinese relationship underscores our commitment to China and the future of premium compact electrified vehicles. This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of MINI-brand-fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market. This is also an important strategic step for the MINI brand. The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us,” Peter stated.
According to the release from BMW AG, the city of Zhangjiagang was chosen to host the Spotlight plant due to its solid supplier network, skilled workforce and good infrastructure. Furthermore, Jiangsu is one of the leading provinces known for finance, education and technology.
“The BMW Group is firmly committed to continuing its successful cooperation with established sales structures and channels in China,” the German automotive developer stated.
The company said it has no plans to create another sales organisation in China for future electric vehicles. Instead, the joint venture partner, Great Wall Motor, will use their own sales for the distribution of their specified brands.
However, by 2021 BMW hopes to have more than one million fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on roads worldwide.
Spotlight Automotive Limited’s board of directors consists of six members, in which the chairman is appointed by GWM and the vice-chairman by BMW, serving for four years.