BMW and its partner in China Brilliance Auto prepare a new sub-brand for this country, called Zhi Nuo, which translates ‘The Promise.’
The Zhi Nuo brand is to be slotted as an entry-level offering under BMW’s MINI brand portfolio and it will be launched in April at the Shanghai Auto Show. The Zhi Nuo brand will also have its own service and dealership network. The Chinese government has been encouraging the creation of sub-brands within the existing JVs between local companies and overseas automakers, in order to get 100% ownership on the profits and intellectual property of these sub-brands.
As any foreign automaker is reluctant on offering their latest technology to foreign hands, BMW’s ‘new’ cars will be based on an older-generation model, such as the 3-Series (also known as the E90) to comply with the government’s new energy requirements and so keep its place in the market.
According to an anonymous source, if BMW gets approval for the Zhi Nuo sub-brand, it will also have the approval to build its second plant in Shenyang’s Tie Xi district, where both Zhi Nuo and BMW models will be manufactured. Another advantage for the automaker, would be that it will have the possibility to get back market share from its rival Audi, outside the luxury segment, while customers will be offered more affordable BMW-quality vehicles.