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BMW Brilliance to make electric brand

German premium automaker BMW last week unveiled a new brand in China in a bid to tap the nation’s fledgling electric car market.

According to the company, the first product carrying the nameplate of Zinoro, or Zhinuo in Chinese, is an all-electric vehicle that will make its debut in November this year at the Guangzhou auto show and hit the market in the first quarter next year.

The car is “specially made in China for China”, said Friedrich Eichiner, member of the management board of BMW.

The country is on the right track with regard to electric cars, but the switch to a new technology takes time, he said.

The Zinoro brand is owned by BMW’s local partnership with Brilliance Auto, and the cars will be built at the joint venture, which now produces the BMW 3 Series, 5 Series and X1 at plants in the northeastern city of Shenyang.

Olaf Kastner, president and CEO of the joint venture, said that the Zinoro will have a separate distribution channel and the batteries are sourced from within China. He also disclosed that the first product will be similar to an SUV.

Next year, BMW will also introduce the i3, an all-electric car under its wholly owned i sub-brand to China through imports.

Eichiner said the Zinoro brand is rooted in China and reflects distinctive aspects of Chinese culture unlike the carmaker’s i brand.

The products will also be differentiated, he said, “They (Zinoro cars) may not be as dynamic as BMW cars, for example”.

He also added that there is a possibility the Zinoro could be exported to markets outside China.

So far, BMW is the first and only foreign luxury carmaker to launch such a joint venture-owned brand in China. Both Audi and Mercedes-Benz have announced no plans yet to take similar actions.


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