Published: Fri, October 13, 2017
Economy | By Annette Adams

BMW, Great Wall confirm Chinese Mini production talks

BMW, Great Wall confirm Chinese Mini production talks

BMW is now considering another joint venture in China so that it can increase its production volumes and strengthen its electric vehicle presence in the market.

BMW, which already has one Chinese manufacturing venture with Brilliance, is launching European production of an electric Mini at its British plant near Oxford in 2019.

BMW AG (BMW.XE) plans to diversify partnerships to grow its Mini brand in China, the company said following reports that it was in talks with Chinese vehicle maker Great Wall Motor Co.

The carmakers have been discussing plans to launch electric and conventional Mini models for 18 months, Great Wall said in a stock exchange filing that described the talks as preliminary.

John Zeng, managing director of LMC Automotive Shanghai, said the possible partnership might be dedicated to electric Mini cars. It is the country's second-largest premium brand after Volkswagen AG's Audi AG.

"If an agreement were to be reached, we'd expect an arrangement like Denza (Mercedes-BYD), or VW-JAC, Ford-Zotye to be the most plausible outcome, whereby a new brand is used to sell EVs", they said in a note, adding that the vehicles could be sold under the Mini brand.

Great Wall, which does not have any car-making partners, did not make an immediate comment on the report on Wednesday, while BMW also declined to immediately comment.

Great Wall, which in August expressed an interest in the Jeep brand of Italian-American automaker Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's, is one of China's largest auto makers.

Trading would be suspended pending clarification of press articles, the company said. Great Wall has halted trading of its shares after a 14 percent surge after news of the talks broke.

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