BEIJING, Oct 12 — BMW AG is working on a deal to outsource the manufacturing of Mini cars in China to Great Wall Motor Co, the country’s biggest SUV maker, according to people with knowledge of the plan.
The two companies are discussing possible export of Mini brand cars from China to other markets, said the officials, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private.
A spokesman for Great Wall declined to comment, saying the company will issue a formal statement later.
Representatives for BMW’s China unit didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comments.
Earlier this morning, Great Wall suspended trading of its shares in Hong Kong after the stock jumped 14 per cent the previous day, amid speculation in local media that the two companies will form a joint venture.
The German automaker already builds cars locally in a tie-up with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings Ltd.
Great Wall, founded by billionaire chairman Wei Jianjun, has become the nation’s leading SUV maker by offering local consumers spacious models with a higher ride and at cheaper prices than sedans made by foreign makers like Volkswagen AG and General Motors Co.
That strategy helped propel the company to a 26 per cent sales surge last year. Great Wall, which doesn’t have automaking partners in China, is also planning to start production in the US, Wei said in March.
The shares of the company have lagged behind rivals this year, with Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd, Brilliance China and Guangzhou Automobile Group Co all up more than 100 per cent in 2017 to top a Bloomberg global gauge of automakers.
Great Wall’s Shanghai-listed shares have been suspended since late last month. — Bloomberg