GENEVA -- Research and development of the new electric Mini will take place in China, BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer said, as the British brand awaits a new alliance with China's Great Wall Motor.
BMW announced last month that it had signed a letter of intent with Great Wall, potentially giving the Chinese company its first foreign manufacturing partner and BMW the first Mini assembly site outside Europe.
“It will be developed in China and it will be produced in China, but we don’t know where yet,” Schwarzenbauer told reporters ahead of the Geneva auto show, which opened to the media on Tuesday. “The car could also be exported.”
So far BMW has relied on its research and development facilities in Germany to produce the current Mini. More stringent local regulations, however, are forcing a shift of intellectual property to China.
“You have to have certain components localized. In the new energy vehicles regulation, the drivetrain and the battery technology needs to be sourced locally,” Schwarzenbauer said, adding that BMW Group would rely on its existing sales partnerships to sell the vehicle.
BMW’s own i3 electric car, which is built and developed in Germany, is not eligible for local subsidies because it does not have components sourced in China, Schwarzenbaer said.