BMW and its Chinese partner Brilliance on Monday announced plans to further expand their joint manufacturing operations in China, known as BMW Brilliance Automotive, or BBA for short.
Namely, the automakers said they planned to increase capacity at their jointly run plants in order to build as many as 520,000 BMWs per year, including the upcoming iX3. The electric SUV will be built at a plant in Shenyang in China's Liaoning Province.
BMW confirmed that the iX3 built in China would be sold in export markets. It means the vehicle, which is due in 2020 and is essentially a battery-powered X3, could end up as the first Chinese-made BMW sold in the United States.
"The next chapter of our cooperation [with Brilliance] has the potential to go beyond our existing motto, 'in China, for China,'" BMW CEO Harald Krüger said in a statement. "The all-electric BMW iX3, produced by BBA from 2020, will find customers around the world."
The move makes sense considering most iX3s are expected to be sold in China due to growing demand for electric cars resulting from various government programs aimed at increasing EV sales. It's one of China's measures for reducing pollution in cities.
Fellow BMW Group brand Mini also plans to build electric cars in China, although Mini's local partner is Great Wall and not Brilliance. Production of the first electric Mini in China is scheduled to start in 2019.
The iX3 was previewed in concept form earlier this year. The concept featured a 270-horsepower electric motor, 70-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, and 250 miles of range. And fast charging of the concept at 150 kilowatts using the CCS standard was said to yield an 80 percent charge in around 30 minutes.