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BMW takes a step towards MINI production in China

by Ronan Glon

The German firm confirmed it signed a letter of intent with Great Wall Motors.

Confirming a recent rumor, BMW has announced it could form a joint-venture with a Chinese auto-maker to build the electric variant of the MINI Hardtop in the world's largest new car market.

The company issued a press release that explains it's currently involved in "advanced discussions" with Great Wall Motors. It has already signed a letter of intent but the deal isn't finalized yet. BMW stresses it hasn't formed a joint-venture yet.

Before that happens, BMW and Great Wall need to figure out where to build the car and how much money to invest in the project. Great Wall -- which specializes in building SUVs and pickup trucks -- currently operates factories in an industrial city named Baoding and in Tianjin. Both are in the Beijing area.

MINI's Oxford, England, factory will also build the electric Hardtop. British production is scheduled to begin in 2019. There's no word yet on when Chinese production will begin.

At first, the Chinese factory will build cars exclusively for the local market. MINI models with a "made in China" label could reach Europe or North America sooner or later, though.

"Currently, there are no concrete plans for export, but it could be possible as part of the long-term scope of the joint-venture," a company spokesperson told Leftlane in a statement.

2018 MINI Hardtop pictured. Photos by Ronan Glon.