e90 kulim

Having a sub-brand in China selling cheaper and/or older models isn’t something new, but it still came as a surprise when we came across reports saying that BMW is going down that route with Chinese partner Brilliance.

Expected to be announced at the upcoming Shanghai show, the sub-brand has been reported by Chinese media to have a local name called Zhi Nuo, which means The Promise. The new brand is expected to launch models based on the X1 and previous-gen E90 3-Series sedan, built at the partnership’s plant in Shenyang, China.

BMW’s global sales boss Ian Robertson said one challenge BMW and Brilliance faced was choosing the name. “Today that is more difficult than it was even two years ago. There are some very smart people who copyright trade names, patents, any name you can possible think of, even names you think you own.”

More surprisingly, BMW may export cars built under this sub-brand. BMW hadn’t decided which markets outside China the new brand would be sold in, but mature markets such as Europe hadn’t been ruled out, Robertson told Automotive News Europe.

Of course, the few questions we have are: how differentiated will the sub-brand cars be; how cheap; and if the cars are to be exported, what badge? Not long to wait now for the answers.