BMW and Mini have already topped global 2016 hybrid and electric sales

BMW and Mini have already topped global 2016 hybrid and electric sales

BMW and Mini have already topped global 2016 hybrid and electric sales

BMW AG (BMW.XE) plans to diversify partnerships to grow its Mini brand in China, the company said following reports that it was in talks with Chinese vehicle maker Great Wall Motor Co.

Chinese law requires worldwide brands to partner with a domestic manufacturer to produce vehicles for the market.

"We are in discussions with Great Wall about setting up a joint venture to produce cars in Changshu", said a BMW executive, who was not authorised to speak on the matter and declined to be identified.

Reuters earlier this week reported the two automakers were looking to establish a joint venture in China. BMW said it planned to grow the Mini brand in China with a new local partner, without naming Great Wall.

BMW is now the second-largest premium vehicle maker in China after Audi.

If the JV project moves ahead, it will be BMW's second partnership operation in China.

Trading would be suspended pending clarification of press articles, the company said.

BMW already has a joint venture in China with local carmaker Brilliance China Automotive Holdings and produces cars at two plants in Shenyang.

Subsequently, Hyundai was also linked as a buyer to Jeep brand. Talks with BMW are still at a preliminary stage and it is uncertain whether the cooperation will commence, the Chinese auto maker said. It added that both companies signed an agreement in April 2016 to study the feasibility of developing electric vehicles and traditional power vehicles in China.

Patrick Yuan, an analyst at Jefferies Hong Kong, said it is understandable that BMW needs a new partner to defend its market share in a more competitive market.

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