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‘Zinuo:’ Chinese for BMW – well, kind of

BMW 4 Series concept

News from China today: BMW has debuted a new brand for the Chinese market called Zinoro – or “Zinuo” in Chinese. Why the Germans chose a name that couldn’t be correctly pronounced by the Chinese is yet unknown.

What we do know, however, is that the fledgling brand will kick off production with an EV – likely an SUV – and the products won’t be quite as dynamic as BMW’s offerings in the rest of the world.

The brand will be “specially made in China for China,” according to Friedrich Eichiner, member of the management board of BMW when speaking to the People’s Daily Online.

Following the yet-to-be-announced first model, the BMW i3 will be imported to China. Unlike the i brand, however, Zinoros will more acutely incorporate aspects of the Chinese culture and tastes. Interestingly, there is a chance that the Zinoro brand could be exported to other global markets in the years to come.

BMW isn’t the first to have a Chinese-only offshoot brand. Audi and Mercedes-Benz have similar plans and Honda and Nissan– to name a couple – have already launched China-only branding.

Aside from building cars in China specifically aimed at the Chinese, we understand wholly why automakers are inventing new names for their inexpensive Chinese creations: branding concerns.

If they do intend to take these Chinese-built cars globally, world-class automakers will not want their brand names sullied by what may be perceived as inferior products. This way, they get the best of both worlds: cheaply made cars with high profits without sullying their own good name. Win-win, it would seem.