The North American market may still be one of the largest in the world, but there’s still one country that’s at the front and center of automakers’ attention: China. That’s why BMW announced Monday that it will engage in a joint manufacturing venture with the German and Chinese governments to build over half a million vehicles in China next year, and exclusive production rights for the BMW iX3 electric crossover SUV.
BMW Group—which is primarily comprised of the BMW, MINI, and Rolls-Royce brands—and its partner in China, Brilliance Automotive Group Holdings, signed an extension to their agreement in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The extension guarantees production rights for 520,000 BMW Group vehicles at the Tiexi and Dadong facilities in 2019, which will also exclusively produce the BMW iX3 electric SUV from 2020 onwards.
The Chinese market is clearly of great importance to the BMW Group among other automakers, as the company reportedly sold 560,000 vehicles there last year alone, making it the single largest market for the Bavarian conglomerate. BMW already operates a battery factory in China, so full-scale electric vehicle production is a logical next step.
With talks of global trade wars escalating, including President Donald Trump’s proposed 25 percent tariff on imported cars from China, it seems global automakers are not backing down, and will continue to expand in the world’s largest automotive market.