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BMW showed a concept for an electric Mini at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2017 (Photo: LA Auto Show)

BMW said it is in "advanced discussions" to form a new joint venture with Great Wall Motor in China to locally produce electric Mini brand cars there.

The German premium car group said it has signed a letter of intent with Great Wall, a major Chinese carmaker, to jointly build the cars. Mini is now slated to start manufacturing a battery-electric Mini at its main plant in Oxford, England, in 2019.

BMW's agreement with Great Wall would be in addition to an existing cooperation with Brilliance, another Chinese carmaker. The two companies jointly operate the BMW Brilliance Automotive (BBA) joint venture, which has two Chinese production locations as well as an engine plant.

The two companies also have a battery factory that caters specifically to electrified BMW brand vehicles.

BMW and Brilliance opened the new “High-Voltage Battery Centre” in Shenyang, last October. The facility will supply batteries to the nearby Dadong plant, where BBA will buikd a plug-in hybrid version of the BMW 5 Series for the Chinese market.

In 2017, BMW sold 35,000 Minis in China, making the country its fourth-largest market for the brand.