Suits with shovels: An impressive ceremonial ground-breaking event was held to put the new JV in the Spotlight

Suits with shovels: An impressive ceremonial ground-breaking event was held to put the new JV in the Spotlight

BMW Group and Great Wall Motor have announced a joint venture plant in China under a new name to build electric Minis.

Local Chinese government officials and the automakers announced the launch of the new joint venture, Spotlight Automotive, in China.

The plant will have capacity for up to 160,000 vehicles per year, eventually employing 3,000 people.

Both partners will share the cost of EUR650m and the plant will be built in 2020 to 2022.

The plant will be built in Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu Province.

The deal with Great Wall includes joint development of battery electric vehicles in the world's largest market for electromobility.

As well as electric Minis, it will develop and build several models and brands for Great Wall.

BMW was quick to stress this is not the end of English Mini.

Electric Mini production is starting in Oxford this month for a first quarter 2020 launch,

"Mini Plant Oxford, which recently built the 10 millionth car since the brand's launch in 1959, will remain the heart and home of Mini manufacturing, while the Spotlight Automotive joint venture will provide additional capacity and flexibility," the automaker said.

BMW finance chief Nicolas Peter said: "This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of Mini-brand-fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market.

"The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us."

Zhangjiagang was chosen as because of its "solid supplier network, skilled workforce and good infrastructure".

Jiangsu is also one of the leading provinces for finance, education and technology.

The joint venture will not be creating an additional sales organisation in China for future electric vehicles so each joint venture partner will use their own sales channel for their specific brands.

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