BMW and Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor form a 50-50 joint venture to produce Mini electric vehicles in China.
Meanwhile in the U.K., Mini releases the first official images of its new Electric Concept car at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The brand’s first fully electric production model is to debut in 2019.
BMW and Great Wall say during a signing ceremony in Berlin that the $741 million JV, Spotlight Automotive, also will produce EVs for the Chinese automaker. The business will be located in Jiangsu Province, where it will build a production facility expected to manufacture 160,000 vehicles a year.
Building battery-electric Mini vehicles in China “is another significant step towards the electrified future of the Mini brand, coming in addition to start-of-production next year of the first battery-electric Mini at the brand’s main plant in Oxford (U.K.),” BMW says in a statement.
The German automaker says it is committed to maintaining its established sales structure and channels in China and has no plans to set up an additional sales organization for the JV’s Mini EVs. “The JV’s activities will focus on the development, procurement and production of electric vehicles for the Chinese market,” BMW says.
In southern England, Mini’s release of detail design sketches coincides with the Mini Electric Concept making its U.K. debut at the Goodwood festival.
The latest concept builds on the Mini E pilot project of 2008 and the Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 plug-in hybrid model on sale since 2017.
The sketches show the car’s grille employing a hexagonal form as a signature Mini design element but, with no need for cooling elements behind it, the grille is closed, improving the car’s aerodynamics. A yellow accent bar with an E badge in the same color produces a contrasting effect and identifies the vehicle as an electric Mini.
The car’s electric drivetrain will be built at the BMW Group’s e-mobility center at Plants Dingolfing and Landshut in Bavaria before being integrated into the car at Plant Oxford, the main production location for the Mini 3-Door Hatch.
– with Paul Myles in Goodwood, U.K.