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BMW Brilliance divided on model of BMW 1 Series

George Gao From Gasgoo.com| September 10 , 2008 14:38 BJT

Shanghai, September 10 (Gasgoo.com) On September 4, the F18 sedan project of BMW Brilliance Auto was prematurely revealed. Now while the German carmaker is astonished at the divulging of the project, the two sides of the joint venture are divided on whether BMW 1 Series or 5 Series cars should be made in their new factory, said xinhuanet.com today.

At an event marking the rolling off line of the JV's 100,000th vehicle last Thursday, Liu Guoqiang, vice governor of Liaoning province where the joint venture is located, said that the second plant of BMW Brilliance, with an expected annual capacity of 80,000 vehicles, will start operation in 2009 and the new factory will first produce an all-new BMW model codenamed F18.

German executives of BMW Brilliance were surprised at Liu's statements, which drew immediate focus on which BMW Series' models will be produced in the venture's new facility. The German side refused to confirm the F18 codename of the model and said that BMW 5 Series sedans, rather than 1 Series sedans, will be built in the new factory, but a Chinese PR executive of the venture insisted that the two sides are still in talks about the new project, adding that the model is not of the BMW 5 Series as agreed earlier.

Industry insiders said that the F18 sedan should be a model of the BMW 1 Series, which Brilliance Auto has desired to introduce for production in the venture. But the imported cars of BMW 1 Series still have huge potentials in the Chinese market and can generate bigger profits than locally produced equivalents, so the German carmaker is reluctant to satisfy its Chinese partner's long coveting for the BMW Series 1.

Whether to manufacture the BMW 1 Series cars or 5 Series cars in its second factory, BMW Brilliance will not stop its process of capacity expansion. Sales of BMW brand cars in mainland China exceeded 49,300 units in 2007, up 25%. In the first six months of 2008, sales totaled 28,766 vehicles, of which 16,196 were locally assembled.

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