BMW is widening its product range in China to 6 models to make sure that options are available to middle-class consumers who don’t have chauffeurs driving them around. The vehicles that will soon start production in China are the front-wheel drive 2-series Active Tourer minivan, a fwd sedan that falls below the 3 series (which will possibly have a 1 series badge), and a variant of the rwd/awd X3 compact SUV.
According to BMW’s China chief Karsten Engel, its top-seller is still the (China-only) long-wheelbase version of the 5 series, which makes up more than a third of its sales in China. Engel added that BMW has been attracting more new customers who drive their own cars. Local production of the 2-series AT will start next year.
A sedan will be next in 2017. Production for the X3 will be announced later. BMW’s factory is located in Tiexi, west of Shenyang in northeastern China. The 2-series AT and sedan will feature BMW’s new UKL fwd architecture that is shared with Mini. Tiexi opened in 2012 and produces the X1 compact SUV and the 3-series sedan in standard and long-wheelbase variants.
In addition, Tiexi is part of the joint venture with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings. It was in 2003 that the first joint venture plant in Dadong, northeast of Shenyang, started operations. This plant produced a long-wheelbase variant of the 5-series sedan that was only available in China. This year, the facility added a plug-in variant of the long-wheelbase 5 series.
Because of the three models added to its output, BMW has decided to expand the combined production capacity of the Tiexi and Dadong to 400,000 units by 2017 from 300,000 currently and had recorded about 285,000 units built in 2014. Engel said that locally produced vehicles make up around two-thirds of BMW’s 425,765 units sold in China in 2014.
Furthermore, BMW is preparing its Tiexi complex to add complete engine production at the start of 2016. The facility will be able to produce 300,000 engines annually, beginning with the new 2.0-liter, four-cylinder gasoline unit that made its debut on the 2-series AT.
What came next was the 1.5-liter, three-cylinder already available on the revamped 1 series. Ian Robertson, BMW board member in charge of BMW marketing and sales, said that this marks the first time for the automaker to have an engine casting complex outside of Germany.