Chinese regulatory authorities have given the okay for Great Wall Motors to begin building a factory in partnership with BMW. The 50:50 partnership was launched in 2018 with the intention of producing low emissions and hybrid vehicles in China. Construction is scheduled to begin next year in 2020, and is planned to last two years, with completion slated for 2022. The factory will have capacity of up to 160,000 vehicles per year, along with a staff of approximately 3,000 individuals.
Both BMW and Great Wall Motors are investing roughly 650,000,000 euros individually, or the equivalent of $715 million each. The facility will produce vehicles like the MINI SE and others, which will be built atop a shared platform that both BMW and Great Wall Motors will use for different models. BMW currently produces and sells just over two million vehicles per year, while Great Wall has output of about half that, at one million units.
Clearing the largest regulatory hurdle is a welcome sign of progress in the partnership between the two automakers, but not everything has been going according to plan. Back in August, we reported on a story that claimed progress was stymied, with disagreements over quality, costs, safety, and more as some of the main points of contention. The insider report went far enough to say that trips to China for BMW engineers were being cancelled, and that, although a large expatriate staff was planned to be established in China, nothing had happened yet.
Details as to how things are currently progressing internally are not currently available, but being granted permission by Chinese officials is a step in the right direction, and a large course correction from August, when it was said that some high-ranking individuals at BMW were considering writing the partnership off as a failure.
The development with Great Wall Motors is not BMW’s only project in China. Last year, BMW became the first automaker to establish majority ownership in China via its joint venture with Brilliance, which has been quite successful since its inception in 2003. In the near future, BMW and Brilliance will be producing the iX3.—Alex Tock
[Photos courtesy BMW AG.]