A Chinese-built BMW in your local showroom? Don’t rule it out.
The German carmaker has just been granted an export licence by Chinese authorities should it choose to reverse the usual one-way street for luxury brands sold in the People’s Republic.
Currently, the 1-Series sedan is built and sold exclusively in China by BMW and its Chinese partner BMW Brilliance, making it an ideal choice as China’s first export BMW.
BMW has made no announcements regarding future models to be built in China or where they may be exported to, but any left-hand-drive market is a possibility.
The elephant in the room - and as far as elephants-in-rooms go, this one is a whopper - is whether BMW’s customers in Europe, the US and elsewhere will accept cars originating from China.
But industry paper Automotive News reports that BMW believes Chinese manufacturing standards have now reached a point where its made-in-China vehicles can be exported.
BMW built just over 300,000 cars at its two Chinese plants last year, but all were required for the Chinese market. Models currently under production include the aforementioned 1 Series, the 3 and 5 Series, the 2 Series Active Tourer and the X1 SUV.
In preparation for the export licence however, BMW has just announced it will boost capacity to 450,000 vehicles annually and the X3 SUV will join the production line.
“Our production in China is well prepared for further market growth,” BMW’s Oliver Zipse said.
“We will continue to invest in our highly innovative production sites in China. Our next project is already underway: the remodelling of the southern section of Plant Dadong. Once finished, it will give us even greater flexibility and more potential for growth.”
That’s the official word from BMW, but unofficially, an anonymous source reportedly told Automotive News that BMW had been pressured to apply for an export licence by Chinese politicians.
BMW joins Volvo to become the second premium European carmaker to export cars from China, if and when exports commence.