BMW opens new R&D centre in Shanghai

By Graeme Roberts | 18 June 2018

BMW has opened its new group Shanghai R&D Centre as part of its Innovation Day China.

The event showcased the automaker's latest developments in innovation, digital services, autonomous driving and automotive design.

Following the opening of the Beijing R&D Centre and the laying of the foundation stone for phase two of the Shenyang High-Voltage Battery Centre in May 2018, the new Shanghai facility is another milestone for BMW's 'In China, for China' R&D strategy.

The company has a vehicle manufacturing joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive which builds long wheelbase models designed specially for China.

"With China leading the way for innovation worldwide, the BMW Group values the country's importance as a driver of innovation and will continue to increase its R&D investment there," the automaker said in a statememt.

"China has a world-class infrastructure, abundant skills and strong support from the government. As one of the most vibrant cities in China, Shanghai is in touch with the latest trends and represents the cutting edge of technology and innovation. It has become the spearhead of innovation for BMW's R&D network in China and an incubator for future technologies.

"The Shanghai R&D Centre will focus on autonomous driving, digital services and futuristic design, and will expand collaboration with leading high-tech companies."

The Technology Office China has been working with Chinese high-tech companies on open innovation projects covering the four aspects of ACES (Automated, Connected, Electrified and Shared) since 2016, with the aim of building a future mobility ecosystem in China. Martin Sautter, senior vice president, Research and Development Centre BMW, BMW China Services, presented awards to four Chinese start-ups for their outstanding achievements in the quest for future mobility solutions.

He said: "China has become a global driver of innovation and will be at the forefront of innovation at BMW. We collaborate with local technology and innovation companies, providing them with a platform for open innovation. This is a win-win partnership, as BMW implements the resulting innovations in its future products and services."

The new Shanghai R&D Centre is located on the Puxi side of the city. It comprises four departments focusing on future mobility trends and innovative design: Technology Office China; Digital Products and Services and Digitalisation Customer Interface; Connected and Automated Driving Lab; Designworks Shanghai Studio. It covers over 2,500sqm and features an open and flexible working environment for 200 technical specialists and designers, around 90% of whom are Chinese. They come from diverse scientific backgrounds: big data, robotics, AI, human machine interface, mechanical engineering, business model development and economics.

The Technology Office China in the Shanghai R&D Centre joins California and Tokyo as the third technology office. It focuses primarily on three main areas – Megacity Mobility China, Open Innovation and Customer Car Data Analytics China. One of their most important projects is the Open Innovation Network, which is building an innovation ecosystem in China. This network covers Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and conducts joint research projects with partners such as universities, start-ups and technology companies.

Designworks Shanghai Studio, along with the studios in Munich and Los Angeles, forms a global future-oriented creative consultancy that offers strategic services to clients in auto and other industries to foster innovation and business growth. With a multicultural team, an organic work organisation and a multi-disciplinary capability, the Shanghai Studio has become a strategic partner for its clients by jointly tailoring design projects and foreseeing the future opportunities of the market.

"China remains a key market for the BMW Group and Designworks, and continues to grow in importance. The region provides a unique platform for design inspiration; from its rapid speed of change, advancements in technology and digitisation, as well as its overarching spirit of optimism," said Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president, BMW Group Design. "By building first-hand experience and understanding of this marketplace, it allows us to create strong and highly relevant solutions for our Chinese customers, as well as giving us the opportunity to infuse this knowledge back into our teams and projects across the world."