BMW’s decision comes after reports that Britain’s only planned large-scale battery plant, being built by Britishvolt in northeast England, would go bankrupt if it did not receive a $223 million rescue fund.
BMW reports that it makes 40,000 Mini Electrics a year at its Cowley plant on the outskirts of Oxford and plans to end production by the end of next year.
Production of BMW Oxford electric vehicles is set to end next year as part of plans to reshape the automaker’s lineup from 2024.
The move is a further blow to Britain’s ambitions to become a leader in global electric car manufacturing, following Honda’s decision to leave the UK in 2016.
However, BMW denied the Times report about moving production from the UK to China.
“Oxford will always be the home of Mini,” said Mini boss Stefanie Wurst, quoted by The Guardian on Sunday, October 16, 2022.
Wurst said the decision to stop assembling the electric Mini in the UK was unrelated to Brexit battery supply and cross-border friction with the EU or the lack of a nearby gigafactory. but because the Cowley plant was not running efficiently in producing both electric and gasoline cars at the same time.
Mini Boss added that if the electric Mini was to be built in the UK it would be in an assembly developed by Great Wall. In other words the Cowley factory would undergo a major overhaul.
“Oxford is not ready to produce electric vehicles yet. It will require renovation and investment,” Wurst said.
Wurst also dismissed the notion that British consumers might resist buying Chinese-made Minis. He said he saw no reason because consumers in the UK had already bought several BMW models made in China.