Insiders at BMW China revealed to Chinese media on October 18 that the German automaker will invest another 10 billion yuan ($1.38 billion) to expand its high-voltage battery production center in China’s northeastern city of Shenyang, and that it will generally increase investment in battery projects in the country. It is reported that the facility serves as the third complete power battery center of BMW Group in the world and the first outside Germany.
China has become the largest electric vehicle market in the world, and it is also an important market for BMW Group’s electric vehicle business. The BMW Brilliance Powertrain Plant in Shenyang is one of the firm’s three major battery production bases in the world, which not only meets production needs for vehicle batteries, but also integrates production of prototype batteries. The BMW R&D Center, also located in Shenyang, focuses on the electrification field. It covers localization development and verification of power batteries, including hardware design and simulation of battery sub-components, software function calibration and integration verification, and battery safety and performance verification.
The fifth-generation batteries adopted by the new BMW iX3 and BMW i3 models are now produced in the second phase of BMW Brilliance Powertrain Plant. The production base opened in 2017, integrating battery R&D, production and testing. It is the first battery center of BMW Group outside Germany with complete battery equipment capability. In 2020, the second phase of the production base was officially unveiled, becoming the first production base of BMW Group in the world to produce BMW’s fifth-generation batteries.
It is worth mentioning that, according to The Times, BMW Group intends to stop producing MINI electric vehicles in its Oxford, England, where production efficiency is relatively low, and will transfer the production line to China. The next generation of pure electric vehicle MINI Aceman will also be produced by the joint venture between the German carmaker and Great Wall Motor, a leading automotive manufacturer in China. On October 18, BMW listed the next generation MINI models to be produced in Oxford factory in its official response, but did not mention the next generation pure electric models of MINI. It said that the information about the production plan will be released in due course in the future. According to the previous plan, MINI Aceman, the next generation pure EV model of MINI, is expected to be produced by a joint venture between BMW and Great Wall Motor.
In 2018, BMW Group signed an agreement with Great Wall Motor to set up a joint venture, named Spotlight Automobile, and settled in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province, to develop and produce MINI’s new-generation EVs. The annual production capacity of the newly built production base will reach 160,000 vehicles. At that time, both sides said that the products of this factory would enter the global market.
On October 18, the relevant employee in charge of Great Wall Motor told media that the construction of Spotlight Automobile is progressing smoothly, the production preparation has been completed, and it is currently in the trial production stage.
In 2021, BMW MINI released a new brand strategy. According to the plan, it will manufacture two pure electric vehicle models in China in 2023. By 2027, the proportion of MINI pure electric vehicles in the world is aimed to reach 50%, with a higher proportion in the Chinese market.