BMW Executive Says New China Sub-Brand Could Be Exported

Europe Hasn’t Been Ruled Out As Possible Export Market

A BMW model at a car show in China. (Bloomberg)

A BMW model at a car show in China. (Bloomberg)

After a March report that BMW will be teaming up with its longtime China joint venture partner Brilliance to create a domestic sub-brand, the German carmaker’s global sales representative recently told Automotive News Europe that the company intends to sell the brand overseas.

BMW’s joint venture with Shenyang-based Brilliance has been producing BMW-branded sedans since 2003, and news broke in March that they would soon be releasing a domestic sub-brand called Zhi Nuo (之诺), which translates roughly to “The Promise.” Several foreign car companies such as Toyota and General Motors have entered the sub-brand market in China in recent years, but BMW is the first luxury car retailer to take the additional step beyond joint venture status.

Xinhua reports that this move was likely related to BMW’s plans to expand production, stating that regulations require joint ventures to create a domestic sub-brand in order to do so. Car blogger Dan Mihalascu at Car Scoops has speculated that BMW most likely doesn’t consider sub-branding ideal, but if it plans to expand production in China, “it has to, as regulations are becoming stricter for foreign manufacturers in the world’s largest car market.” According to Mihalascu, “China is pushing for the creation of sub-brands within the existing joint ventures because the sub-brands will be 100 percent Chinese and will have all the rights on intellectual property.”

The claim that Zhi Nuo vehicles could be introduced to the international market may be intended to counteract sentiments that the brand’s models may not be up to BMW’s typical luxury standards. Zhi Nuo is reportedly likely to produce cars based on older BMW models, although the company has not confirmed this.

The formal announcement to unveil Zhi Nuo will reportedly be made at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show in late April, when BMW and Brilliance’s official statement will likely shed more light on their goals for the new venture.

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