Update (16 October 2017): Great Wall Motor Company has issued a statement in response to rumours of a potential tie-up with BMW. See bottom of article for details.
German luxury marque BMW is looking into a business venture with Chinese manufacturer Great Wall to produce electric vehicles, according to a new report.
According to the report, one of the sources is an unidentified BMW executive, who declined to be named as they were unauthorised to speak on the topic.
The second person interviewed by Reuters said if the partnership happens, it would not involve petrol- or diesel-powered vehicles - hinting at a focus on electric vehicles (EV).
Above: Great Wall Steed
Analysts from US finance firm Bernstein believe the venture between BMW and Great Wall would have to exclusively sell EVs due to China's crackdown on emissions and new combustion vehicle businesses.
"If an agreement were to be reached, we’d expect an arrangement like Denza (Mercedes-BYD), or VW-JAC, Ford-Zotye to be the most plausible outcome, whereby a new brand is used to sell EVs," they told Reuters, also suggesting new models could be sold under the Mini brand.
BMW already has a joint venture in China with local manufacturer, Brilliance China Automotive Holdings. The company produces a number of models at two facilities in Shenyang, including the China-only 1 Series sedan (above) and long-wheelbase X1 SUV.
Regardless of whether the deal with Great Wall is successful, BMW's partnership with Brilliance is expected to continue.
For those unfamiliar with the market, foreign carmakers are required to team up with local partners in China.
Above: Mini Electric Concept
It's also reported that Great Wall recently secured a deal for supplies of lithium, a key mineral in the production of battery packs in electric vehicles. Additionally, rumours regarding Great Wall's interest in the Jeep brand have been circulating of late - though parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has already played down that idea.
Update: Great Wall Motor Company Limited (GWM) has issued the following statement regarding rumours of a potential joint venture with BMW:
"Great Wall Motor Company Limited (GWM) has issued a statement in relation to media reports about the potential creation of a joint venture with BMW.GWM would like to clarify that:
1. As of the date of this announcement, GWM and BMW have not entered into any legal documents for the establishment of a joint venture in China.
2.As of the date of this announcement, the basic information regarding the discussion between GWM and BMW about the feasibility of co-operating to produce vehicles under the MINI brand is as follows:
- (a) Both parties entered into a confidential agreement on 18 April 2016 for the feasibility of research and development of battery electric vehicles and traditional power vehicles.
- (b) Both parties entered into an agreement on 21 February 2017 for discussion and evaluation on the feasibility of co-operating to produce vehicles under the MINI brand.
As of the date of this announcement, save as the above agreements, GWM has not entered into any other related agreement with BMW."