BMW exec hails China's innovation, dual circulation

( Updated: 2021-03-18

Jochen Goller, president and CEO of BMW's operations in China, said he is impressed by the nation's plan to keep using innovation to drive its development, as outlined in the Government Work Report delivered on Friday.

"Based on the tremendous progress China has achieved over the past decade, it is now a world-leading innovation hub," said Goller in a written interview with China Daily on Saturday.

He said the development of intelligent infrastructure, such as 5G and 1,000 megabyte fiber-optic networks, will provide the framework for accelerated industry transformation and upgrading in the country.

"BMW Group considers China to be much more than just our largest single market, but rather an important origin of innovation and we are continuously scaling up our investment in this regard," said Goller.

The carmaker has established its largest R&D footprint outside its home of Germany, with research facilities in Shanghai and Beijing as well as Shenyang, Liaoning province.

It is expanding collaboration with leading Chinese technology companies as well, including Alibaba. This year, the carmaker is establishing a joint venture in China to accelerate the integration of in-car digital features to meet the demands of tech-savvy Chinese customers.

Goller applauded China's dual-circulation strategy development pattern. "It puts a parallel emphasis both on domestic and international circulation. A high-level opening-up certainly serves this end, bringing win-win outcomes both for China and multinational companies," he said.

He said the potential of the Chinese market is huge and BMW will continue investing in the country.

Since 2009, BMW has invested more than 64 billion yuan ($9.81 billion) in Shenyang to build vehicle and battery plants and infrastructure. China is now the only country that produces its iX3 electric SUV.

The carmaker is investing 5.1 billion yuan into its joint venture with China's Great Wall Motors to produce electric MINIs in the country.

"These latest moves of BMW in China are based on our confidence that we will strive to seize the greater opportunities brought by a more open China," he said.

BMW entered the Chinese market in 1994 and established its first joint venture in 2003.

Last year, its sales in the country hit a record 777,379 vehicles, up 7.4 percent year-on-year despite the COVID-19 pandemic. That was about one-third of the group's global sales for 2020.

The company is planning to launch 25 models in the Chinese market this year.

"The year 2021 is the first year of China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), which will start a new journey of modernization in all dimensions. We are confident that China will continue to open up and promote high-quality development," said Goller.