BMW ramps up investment in China to meet electric demand

BMW CEO Harald Krueger, right, underlined the importance of China to the German automaker, saying the country, with its increased demand for electric vehicles, is a dynamic growth market for his country. (AP Photo)
Updated 11 October 2018
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BMW ramps up investment in China to meet electric demand

  • Munich-based BMW said it would pay €3.6 billion to raise its stake in BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. to 75 percent
  • BMW will invest in new and existing plant facilities in Shenyang, increasing production capacity to 650,000 vehicles a year from the early 2020s

FRANKFURT: German automaker BMW is taking a majority stake in its China joint venture and investing €3 billion ($3.5 billion) in factories there, underscoring the importance of the Chinese market as the company prepares to meet increased demand for electric vehicles.
Munich-based BMW on Thursday said it would pay €3.6 billion to raise its stake in BMW Brilliance Automotive Ltd. to 75 percent from 50 percent.
Alongside the deal, BMW will invest in new and existing plant facilities in Shenyang, increasing production capacity to 650,000 vehicles a year from the early 2020s. The plants produced 400,000 vehicles last year.
A new plant will be able to produce fully electric, partly electric, and conventional vehicles on the same line.

 

The Chinese government has issued a new energy vehicle mandate which uses a system of credits to push automakers to increase the share of battery-only and hybrid cars in their sales mix.
The policy is expected to increase the number of electrically powered vehicles in the world’s largest car market over coming years.
Last year, battery-only and hybrid cars were 2.2 percent of the Chinese market; the International Council on Clean Transportation estimates that could rise to around 4 percent by 2020 under the policy.
The country is BMW’s single largest sales market, with 560,000 vehicles sold there last year.
The deal is subject to approval by regulators and shareholders of Chinese partner Brilliance China Automotive Holdings.
BMW is taking advantage of the Chinese government’s plans to end the requirement that foreign auto manufacturers enter into joint ventures with local partners in order to make cars in China. The BMW-Brilliance deal is scheduled to close in 2022, the year the requirement ends.
“With continuous investment, as well as the development and production of electric vehicles, we underline China’s importance as a dynamic growth market for us,” BMW CEO Harald Krueger said in a statement.

FASTFACTS

China is BMW’s single largest sales market, with 560,000 vehicles sold there last year.


Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

Updated 20 October 2018
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Can a hungry Mali turn rice technology into ‘white gold’?

  • Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change
  • Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983

BAGUINEDA: When rice farmers started producing yields nine times larger than normal in the Malian desert near the famed town of Timbuktu a decade ago, a passerby could have mistaken the crop for another desert mirage.
Rather, it was the result of an engineering feat that has left experts in this impoverished nation in awe — but one that has yet to spread widely through Mali’s farming community.
“We must redouble efforts to get political leaders on board,” said Djiguiba Kouyaté, a coordinator in Mali for German development agency GIZ.
With hunger a constant menace, Malians are cautiously turning to a controversial farming technique to adapt to the effects of climate change.

 

Dubbed the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), the new method was pioneered in Madagascar in 1983. It involves planting fewer seeds of traditional rice varieties and taking care of them following a strict regime.
Seedlings are transplanted at a very young age and spaced widely. Soil is enriched with organic matter, and must be kept moist, though the system uses less water than traditional rice farming.
Up to 20 million farmers now use SRI in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast, said Norman Uphoff, of the SRI International Network and Resources Center at Cornell University in the US.
But, despite its success, the technique has been embraced with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Uphoff said that is because it competes with the improved hybrid and inbred rice varieties that agricultural corporations sell.
For Faliry Boly, who heads a rice-growing association, the prospect of rice becoming a “white gold” for Mali should spur on authorities and farmers to adopt rice intensification.
The method could increase yields while also offering a more environmentally-friendly alternative, including by replacing chemical fertilizers with organic ones, he said.
He also pointed out that rice intensification naturally lends itself to Mali’s largely arid climate.

FACTOID

Up to 20 million farmers now use rice intensification in 61 countries, including in nearby Sierra Leone, Senegal and Ivory Coast.