China is often giving us glimpses of the future of the auto industry in the rest of the world – thanks to its aggressive zero-emission vehicle mandate which attracts EV production investments.
The German automaker opened the facility today through its BMW Brilliance Automotive Joint Venture in China.
The factory called “High-Voltage Battery Centre” is located in Shenyang and it will start by supplying battery packs for the nearby Dadong plant, which produces the BMW 5 Series Plug-in Hybrid – BMW’s first plug-in electric vehicle on the Chinese market.
Oliver Zipse, member of the Board of Management of BMW AG responsible for Production, said about the opening of the plant:
It might indeed be the first for a foreign “premium automaker”, but several others are eyeing the market. Earlier this year, Daimler announced a new $740 million battery factory in China for Mercedes-Benz’s EVs and Tesla reportedly has a deal with China to build ‘wholly-owned’ gigafactory in Shanghai.
To be fair, there are several differences in those projects. BMW and Daimler are talking about battery module and pack manufacturing, while Tesla’s Gigafactory concept includes the production of battery cells through its production partners.
BMW says that it is building a global expertise in battery pack manufacturing and that this is its tenth location where they perform battery pack assembly.
While the facility is only producing battery packs for the BMW 5 Series Plug-in Hybrid for now, BMW says that it will enable them more “flexibly” adapt to demand for electrified models.
Regardless of demand in China, automakers will have to increase their local production of EVs. Automakers need zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) to represent 10% of new car sales as soon as in 2019 and 12% by 2020. They recently removed the requirement for 2018, but the plan is still more aggressive than any major country.
VW, Daimler, Toyota, Ford, the Renault-Nissan alliance and more recently GM have all announced joint-ventures to produce electric vehicles in China over the last year and now BMW seems to be increasing its effort in the market.