The new brand will differ from the i sub-brand but will pack an equally weighty punch stylistically.
BMW and local partner Brilliance JinBei Automobile Co. are teaming up to create a new Chinese EV brand in order to meet local government requirements. Speaking with Automotive News Europe Ian Robertson, BMW head of sales and marketing, said: "We will have a new brand, it's a legislative requirement." BMW has a history with Brilliance with their plug-in hybrid 5-series concept unveiled at the 2010 Shanghai Auto Show.
Robertson said that the EVs made for China will take advantage of some of BMW's green powertrains currently in development, however failed to elaborate which products will get the EV treatment. Joint Venture partnerships such as BMW-Brilliance are important for China, a country desperate to grow its exports. "The Chinese auto market is the biggest in the world, but what they haven't really got is an international brand with Chinese origin," he said. "I think there will be a requirement of globalization of a Chinese brand. What's happening is that we're all encouraged to have more brands with a new technology element to it.
If that technology is proven to be successful, then there's an opportunity for that brand to grow and prosper." 2013 will see the launch of BMW's fully-electric i3 which will be followed by the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar in 2014, and Robertson believes that going forward EV buyers will want cars that look the business. "Customers have an expectation to get what they've always had, and get sustainability too. It's not either/or. I think some manufacturers are saying 'Well, OK, if you want to have this, then you can't have what you've had before'."