BMW moving electric Mini production to China

UK plant deemed inefficient and in need of major overhaul, says executive

published :
15 Oct 2022 at 17:46

A Mini electric car rolls off the line at the BMW group plant in Cowley, near Oxford, England in 2019. The company is moving production of the cars to China. (AFP File Photo)

LONDON: BMW will stop manufacturing its electric Minis in the United Kingdom and move production to factories in China, dealing yet another blow to Britain’s ambitions in battery-powered vehicles, the Times has reported.

The German car manufacturer builds around 40,000 electric Mini vehicles a year at its factory outside Oxford but will call a halt by the end of next year, the newspaper said on Saturday, citing an executive who leads the Mini brand. BMW plans to shift production of the electric vehicles to its joint venture in China.

Stefanie Wurst, the new chief of Mini, told the newspaper that the Oxford plant was running inefficiently by having to produce electric and petrol-engine cars on the same line.

She said the factory needed “renovation and investment” to build electric vehicles, with the old assembly lines stripped out. Still, there was no date for a return to the UK, she said, according to the Times.

BMW will continue to assemble internal combustion-powered Minis in the UK into the 2030s — predominantly for export to the United States, Japan and the Middle East, according to the newspaper. However, the electric Minis will be built by BMW’s joint-venture partner Great Wall Motor in China and at its plant in Leipzig.

Meanwhile, three-year-old Britishvolt Ltd, the UK’s attempt to develop a homegrown electric-vehicle battery giant, is under threat as it seeks emergency funding. Bloomberg this week reported that the firm was considering selling its UK site.

The Financial Times said the company needs some £200 million to fund it until next summer and is holding talks with strategic investors.