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BMW Brilliance eyes sustainable e-car biz model


Motoring has interviewed BMW Brilliance Automotive President and CEO Oalf Kastner during his visit to Chengdu, Chongqing province on the sideline of BMW Mission 3 event on August 3.

Kastner told Motoring that BMW Brilliance will launch its first Zinoro branded car -- an electric car -- in November during the Guangzhou auto show, and BMW electric car i series will be available for purchase in 2014.

Motoring: How will BMW Brilliance leverage the China auto market?

Oalf Kastner: To be very honest, our home auto production in China, chosen in 2003, is in Shenyan, so far. We have just built a second plant there, and show its sustainability. I think we have to consolidate at first, before we think what we are doing and how we grow further. Very importantly, with in that, you have to stay flexible.

So just building building building? We are not a mass manufacturer. So we have to see that whenever we bring a new model, whenever we bring a new plant, the three most important things are quality, quality, again, so three times quality. This is very important. This is in processes, and this is how you build. In that respect, I think we have to finalize our plant there. You know we are also building a new engine plant for the next generation engine.

We have to consolidate at first, before we think what come next. We have to wait for what the market demand is, what the market size is. At the moment, we can serve the market out of what we have.

Motoring: How do you see the western China market?

Kastner: It is, no doubt, the fastest region we have. It is developing very substantially. You see this in town. When you go in to the town, every time I'm here, I'm really surprised how it has changed again. That shows very vibrant atmosphere, it also shows a lot of confidence by vast number of companies coming here to Chengdu.

Of cause with that, you have prominence with that. You have growing wealth level. While you have growing wealth level, we have the right product. In that respect, we have our western region here in Chengdu, and the center sits here. We believe this growth will go on. It will certainly out grow the average of the rest, in relative terms.

Motoring: What will be BMW's latest model to launch?

Kastner: Come to Gaungzhou in November, and you will see our new brand Zinoro there. It will not be a mock-up. It will be a car which can drive. I have driven it, and it's a lot of fun.

Just this week, I guess you all have watched it live or watched it on the internet. A real revolution took place: we brought out the first fully-electric car you can buy. Up to now, we have test model. We run pilots. But very soon in 2014, you will be able to buy it ĘC the BMW i3.

In my opinion this is a real revolutionary e-mobility. This is premium, affordable, and a new e-mobility world. And I think this will get very excited.

Motoring: What's the engine for the sales of the electric cars?

Kastner: I very much think it will be a technology driven sales. Maybe the sales are also driven by certain restrictions.

The just subsidy is never enough to make sales sustainable. It is important, because the cost of developing these cars, of building them are much much higher at the moment than building a normal car. Why? Because the battery technology is so expensive. I think the battery price will come down over time, that means these cars will get cheaper over time.

When you talk about subsidies, usually they are attached to purchase only. But in the long run, at certain point of time, the subsidies will be gone. So when you go into such an area of business, you have to develop, a company have to develop a sustainable business model. You cannot just rely on subsidies, and we don't do this.

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