Oxford reprieve lifted
BMW will invest 600 million pounds sterling, or 700 million euros, in the MINI factory in Oxford to make it a production site entirely dedicated to electric vehicles by 2030, while production of the new generation of fully electric MINI Cooper 3-door and MINI Aceman will begin in China with exports planned for early 2024. “With this new investment, we will expand the Oxford plant for the production of the new generation of electric MINIs and open the path to manufacturing purely electric cars in the future,” says Milan Nedeljković, BMW board member responsible for production.
Founded in 1912, the venerable Oxford factory therefore sees the sky clearing up for the years to come, while BMW announced last year its intention to completely transfer Mini production to China. By 2030, production volume will be exclusively electric and BMW recalls that more than £3 billion has been spent on its factories in Swindon, Hams Hall and Oxford since 2000.
A British state in action
This development was financially supported by the British government although the amount has not been made official. The British media speak of public aid of 75 million pounds sterling. This massive investment should help secure jobs at the Oxford manufacturing plant and the Swindon body pressing plant, representing 4,000 positions. This is therefore further good news for the British executive, which is struggling to maintain its automobile production after the first repercussions of Brexit. Honda left the United Kingdom in 2016 and the Britishvolt factory was on the verge of bankruptcy at the end of 2022, before being taken over by an Australian group. This announcement comes after Stellantis’ investments in the Ellesmere Port factory and Tata’s future big investments in a battery factory.
Trade and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch said: “This decision is a big vote of confidence in the UK economy and in the work of this Government to ensure the continued strength of our world-leading automotive sector. We are proud to be able to support the BMW Group’s investment, which will secure high-quality jobs, strengthen our supply chains and drive Britain’s economic growth. »
The MINI Oxford plant currently produces the MINI 3-door, the MINI 5-door as well as the MINI Clubman and the MINI Electric, with the million unit mark having been crossed in the spring. From 2024, the plant will begin producing the next generation of combustion-engined MINI 3-doors and MINI 5-doors, as well as the new MINI Convertible, before being joined in 2026 by the new fully electric vehicles – the MINI Cooper 3- door and the MINI Aceman. The factory will reach a production capacity of around 200,000 cars per year in the medium term, with both combustion engine and electric vehicles initially being built on the same production line.
Commercial uncertainties that persist
BMW’s announcement comes even as uncertainty remains over trade agreements between the United Kingdom and the European Union, regarding possible import taxation of electric cars manufactured in the United Kingdom from January 1. Britain and carmakers have been lobbying the EU to delay the date the rules come into force to avoid adding to the costs of European electric cars, which are already facing a steep competition from Chinese models with very high prices.
“It will only benefit Chinese companies if we impose tariffs on each other’s products at the same time,” said Kemi Badenoch, Britain’s Business and Trade Secretary.
Sources: BMW, The guardian