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BMW agrees to build iX3 electric SUV, electric Minis in China

The vehicles will be produced as part of two separate joint ventures.

Mini Electric Concept

Even though China is slowly lifting the joint-venture requirement for non-Chinese automakers, BMW continues to deepen those relationships with two major EV announcements.

BMW announced this week that it has created a new joint venture and strengthened one that already exists. The new joint venture is between BMW and Great Wall Motor, and it will exist to produce Mini's electric vehicles, although the first electric Mini will come from the BMW subsidiary's main plant in Oxford, England. The two will also build EVs for the Great Wall Motor brand. The joint venture's name will be Spotlight Automotive Limited.

Great Wall briefly entered the US news cycle last August when it was rumored that the Chinese automaker had an interest in some or all of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. That never panned out, clearly.

BMW also deepened its partnership with Brilliance Automotive Group Holdings, a joint venture that's been going strong for 15 years. It will increase the capacity at its two plants in Tiexi and Dadong to a net 520,000 BMW vehicles per year. The company will also produce the forthcoming iX3 electric crossover -- for both local sales and export to other markets. It's unclear if the iX3 will be built anywhere else.

All we've seen of either car thus far are concepts. In October 2016, BMW first announced that it would offer battery-electric variants of both the X3 SUV and a then-unnamed Mini model. At the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, Mini unveiled the Mini Electric Concept, basically a battery-electric version of a two-door Mini Hardtop.

The Concept iX3 made its debut at the 2018 Beijing Motor Show. Its electric motor puts out approximately 270 horsepower, or 30 more than the current gas-powered X3. Its 70-kWh battery pack should provide for a range in the 250-mile ballpark, and the cells could accept up to 150 kW of charge, more than Tesla's current Superchargers.