Extended wheelbase 3-Series will be built at new Chinese plant. BMW builds its Chinese market models in-country with local partner Brilliance Auto.

Are long wheelbase variants turning into a big trend in China?

Well, at least for the segment in which the 3-Series competes there, BMW feels the need to offer a long-wheelbase variant to go up against the successful Audi A4L - the extended wheelbase version of the A4 model.

BMW will be building the stretched variant of the 3-Series at a new plant in the Shengyang economic zone with its Chinese partner Brilliance Auto. The plant, scheduled to be built in 2012, will have a capacity of 100,000 units and will also be used to manufacture the X1, according to Brilliance chairman Qi Yu Min.

The new plant will give BMW/Brilliance a capacity of 300,000 units per year with most of the parts sourced locally (60 percent). BMW/Brilliance hope to increase sales in China to 120,000 units annually by 2012, meaning that the additional capacity may well be used to export vehicles to markets outside of the country.

Brilliance is also said to want a production plant to build MINI models in China too.

Gallery: BMW working on 3-Series LWB - report