Manufacturing News

BMW to unveil hybrid plug-in at Shanghai auto show

BMW AG plans to unveil its first hybrid-electric model for the Chinese market at the Shanghai auto show next month.

The model will be BMW's first gasoline plug-in electric hybrid and will be based on the long-wheel-base variant of the 5 series mid-sized sedan, which is only available in China.

"This model will be our e-car from China for China," BMW CEO Norbert Reithofer said on the sidelines of the company's annual press conference.

BMW began producing the new long-wheel-base 5-series last year as part of its joint venture with Brilliance in Shenyang.

China is a crucial growth market for BMW; the automaker made a record profit and increased sales 87 percent in the country last year.

With 183,328 units sold in 2010, China ranked as the third largest market for BMW, behind Germany and the United States, with 267,160 and 266,580 units respectively.

"BMW's profitably has exploded, driven by the Chinese mix and volume and record average revenues per unit," said Max Warburton, an auto analyst at Bernstein Research in London.

In June, BMW and Brilliance began construction of a second plant in Tiexi, which will begin producing the X1 mid-size SUV starting next year.

In adding the Tiexi plant to the already operational one in Shenyang -- which last year built 55,600 units -- BMW will expand capacity in China to 150,000 units a year in the medium term, Reithofer said.

As part of its plan to introduce EVs, BMW also plans to expand its fleet of battery-powered Mini E subcompact cars to 600 units this year, extending the test fleets to China, following tests in Europe and the U.S. last year.


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