BMW may export cars built under a new brand developed with Chinese partner Brilliance Automotive to mature and developing markets, global sales boss Ian Robertson said. BMW hadn’t decided which markets outside China the new brand would be sold in, but mature markets such as Europe hadn’t been ruled out, Robertson said.
The name of the new brand will be revealed at the Shanghai auto show this month, a BMW source said. Chinese media have reported that the local name is Zhi Nuo, which means The Promise.
The new BMW-Brilliance brand is expected to base its models on existing BMWs built by the partnership at their plant in Shenyang, China, including the X1 SUV and 3-series sedan. Robertson declined to confirm this during an recent interview.
Foreign automakers building cars in China have to develop a new brand with their local partner under Chinese regulations. A key condition is that a proportion of the cars must be “new energy” with either a hybrid or full-electric powertrain. The idea is that global automakers help local firms produce cars good enough to establish a Chinese brand abroad, Robertson said.
“Local brands have been largely directed at the domestic market. If I were the auto minister for China, I would say, ‘Well, where are our Hyundai and Kia?’ Out of that [requirement], I’m sure a couple will be successful,” Robertson said.
A handful of joint brands already have been launched such as Nissan-Dongfeng’s Venucia and Honda-Dongfeng’s Ciimo, which both made their debut at the Beijing auto show last year.
The Ciimo sedan is based on the previous-generation Honda Civic, while the Venucia D50 sedan was developed from Nissan’s Tiida. Nissan-Dongfeng said in in a statement that it planned to reach sales of 1 million within five years through the new brand’s 100 dealers in China.
Robertson said one challenge BMW and Brilliance faced was choosing the name. “Today that is more difficult than it was even two years ago,” he said “There are some very smart people who copyright trade names, patents, any name you can possible think of, even names you think you own.”