BMW has reversed previous plans and will now spend GBP600m to upgrade its factories in Oxford and Swindon to prepare for production of the new Mini – including electric models.
The investment reportedly will be backed by GBP75m funding from the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund.
Two electric models, the three door Mini Cooper and the compact Aceman will now also be built from 2026 at the Cowley plant in Oxford. Previous plans had based all EV output, bar the Leipzig built redesigned Countryman crossover, in China.
BMW’s decision to invest in its Oxford plant followed “extensive” discussions with the UK government.
The Oxford plant has been producing electric Minis alongside conventional ICE models since 2019 and was expected to reach a production capacity of around 200,000 vehicles per year.
‘Plant Oxford’ currently produces three and five door hatchbacks, the Clubman and the electric hatchback.
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From 2024 the factory will start producing the new generation three and five door hatchbacks with combustion engines plus a new convertible and add the electric Cooper three door hatch and Aceman crossover in 2026.
In 2030, the plant exclusively will make electric models.
“BMW’s landmark announcement is yet another vote of confidence in UK automotive manufacturing. It secures the long term future of the home of one of the world’s most iconic brands and also demonstrates once again our capabilities in electric vehicle production,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
“British automotive manufacturing has clear advantages – a skilled, highly productive workforce, cutting edge plants, a diverse vibrant supply chain and world class R&D all of which we must continue to promote in the face of fierce global competition.”
Nonetheless, BMW earlier had outlined plans to make China the primary global manufacturing hub for electric Minis. Production of the Cooper and Aceman will begin in 2024, two years before UK production starts.
Chinese models will be manufactured by Spotlight Automotive, a joint venture between BMW and Great Wall Motor, based in Zhangjiagang in Jiangsu province. Exports will also start in 2024.
The new Cooper was unveiled earlier this month at the IAA Mobility show in Munich.