BMW expects slower growth in China, talks with local JV ongoing

2018 BMW i8 Roadster and i8 Coupe Unveiled at 2017 Los Angeles Auto Show

German automaker BMW expects the pace of growth of its China sales to nearly halve this year, the firm’s chief executive stated on Wednesday, amid a broader slowdown in the world’s largest vehicle market.

The firm is aiming growth of 7-8 percent, against 15 percent in last year, BMW CEO Harald Krueger informed reporters at China’s main yearly auto show being held in Beijing.

“We don’t expect huge double-digit growth like in the past, we expect single digit growth,” he stated.

China’s total auto market increased just 2.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has predicted a 3 percent market growth for this year, in line with last year, but largely below the steep 13.7 percent gain in 2016.

BMW, which has a regional venture with Brilliance China Automotive Holdings, is also looking for a new alliance with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor to develop the automaker’s Mini brand in the country.

Krueger stated Chinese plans to eliminate caps on foreign ownership of regional ventures, currently limited to 50 percent, should not affect its tie-ups in the country, but stated that discussions with its partners in the market were ongoing.

China stated previously this month it would scrap a long-standing limit on foreign ownership of new-energy auto ventures this year and for the broader car market by 2022, in a significant policy shift that will help open up the industry.

Krueger also stated the firm could, in the long-term, export vehicles from the country to other countries in the region, though this would depend on factors consisting logistics expenses and tariffs between China and other countries like Thailand.

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