The reality of an all-Chinese car has moved a step closer and with it BMW's desire to build cars in China.
China Brilliance, based in Shenyang, has received approval to build the Zhonghua, a mid-size sedan designed by Italdesign but, according to executive director Lloyd Hong Xing, '100 percent Chinese intellectual property.'
Hong Xing introduced China Brilliance, which already builds 60,000 10- to 12-seat minibuses per year, to BMW in 1999. Since then the Germans have installed process technology at the new plant built to produce Zhonghua and will now help with the production start-up.
BMW and China Brilliance have made a joint application to local authorities to build a 5 series and perhaps a 3 series at the new plant. Approval of the BMW project is expected to come along with the Zhonghua sedan.
Speaking at the Automotive News regional congress in Bangkok in late May, Hong Xing said there was never any doubt about the approval. But even pure local players must abide by a very rigid system of licensing, he said. However, the licensing is allowed under World Trade Organization rules, he added.
Hong Xing said the issue of possible cooperation with Britain's MG Rover would be settled one way or the other soon.
'You won't have to wait long,' he said. 'It will depend on what synergies and mutual benefits there are.'
Hong Xing also spoke of developments in China Brilliance's program with British trading company Manganese Bronze to build vehicles based on the London taxi. Brilliance has had a London taxi at its Shenyang factory for some time for evaluation and the two companies are looking at 'sourcing in China to cut down on cost and consolidate the product.'
China Brilliance and its chairman Yang Rong have recently come under scrutiny by government officials 'over suspected asset stripping,' according to a report in the Financial Times.