BMW to end production of Mini electric cars in the UK next year
BMW has confirmed that it will stop making electric versions of the Mini in the UK next year, in a move that will leave its Oxford plant completely dependent on petrol models for much of the next decade.
The German automaker launched the first battery-powered version of its historic Mini Cooper in 2019 as part of a wave of models rolled out by manufacturers to help them meet tight regulations. on European emissions.
The model proved to be more successful than expected, receiving numerous awards and growing, accounting for a third of vehicles produced at BMW’s Oxford facility.
The German carmaker announced in 2019 that it would produce an updated battery-powered Mini in China from 2024 and would export globally, including to the UK.
The model, produced by BMW’s Chinese joint venture partner, Great Wall Motors, will have nearly twice the range of the current model.
BMW officially announced the end of the first electric Mini produced by Oxford last November.
While the carmaker has always planned to discontinue production after four years – about half of the industry standard lifecycle – the recall of one of the most popular UK-made battery models would still be a major blow. into this field.
Jaguar Land Rover’s first electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-Pace, has been manufactured in Austria, while Norfolk-based Lotus will manufacture its first electric SUVs at a factory in China.
However, new investments from Nissan and Stellantis mean UK electric vehicle production is expected to continue to grow in the coming years.
The UK car industry has called for more support in the fuel transition, especially to attract battery manufacturers to invest in the UK in order to enable existing factories to shift production. electricity in the next decade.
The most popular British-made electric car is still the Nissan Leaf, made in Sunderland.
Although BMW’s Oxford plant was tweaked in 2019 to produce electric models and can produce battery- and petrol-powered cars in tandem, the assembly line still requires extra manual workers every time a Electric version is manufactured, to match the imported German battery pack.
Mini brand CEO Stefanie Wurst said the facility is “not a product for mass production” of electric cars.
The factory, she added, requires “big investments” to be able to create large-scale battery models in the future.
The company expects electric car production to return to Oxford at some point in the future, but has not set a date for the next model’s launch.
Normally, automakers renew vehicles every seven or eight years, so the future generation of the upcoming electric Mini is likely to be decided by the end of the decade.
The Mini brand has committed to selling only electric cars since the early 2030s and intends to always maintain a facility in Oxford.
The plant will produce five- and three-door petrol versions, as well as the convertible model previously made in the Netherlands.
BMW also makes the Mini in Germany in Leipzig, where it will produce an electric version of the larger Mini Countryman. Their new factory in China will also produce an all-electric model called the Aceman.