Will the electric Mini stay in the UK?

BMW Group is reportedly negotiating with the British Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to receive a £75 million (± €84,5 million) grant to continue production of the electric Mini at its plant in Cowley on the outskirts of Oxford.

This comes after British media reported in October that the German carmaker could stop building the electric version in the UK entirely. Instead, it would continue to produce its conventional models there and move its EV production to China through its partnership with Great Wall. At the same time, the electric Countryman will be built in Leipzig, Germany.

This report was contradicted by German media. In November, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) wrote that BMW would continue building the electric Mini in the UK since production sites in China and Germany were not sufficient.

The electric and conventional models of the Mini Hatchback are currently based on the same platform, making it possible to build both versions at the Cowley plant. But the next generation electric Mini will sit on its own platform developed by Great Wall. Parallel production at the Cowley plant was long considered inefficient and too costly. Now it seems that BMW may have found a way to the problem.

Cowley under pressure

According to Sky News, who first reported on the alleged grant negotiations, the money would come from Whitehall’s Automotive Transformation Fund. Neither BMW nor the BEIS wanted to comment further on the issue.

It is, therefore, unclear when the money will be released or when the Cowley plant will begin using it. Meanwhile, according to Sky News, industry sources estimate that a deal between the government and the carmaker could be finalized within weeks.

BMW currently makes around 40 000 electric Minis a year at its Cowley plant (Oxfordshire), where the (conventional) Mini has been built since the late 1950s.

UK less attractive

In a recent interview with the BBC, Nissan COO Ashwani Gupta said that the UK is becoming less attractive as a production location than other European sites. He noted that ongoing government support to carmakers to master the transition to more EVs was needed, as the UK is struggling with higher energy prices and inflation than other countries.

Nissan has already committed to building the successor to the Nissan Leaf at its plant in Sunderland. However, whether the electric versions of the Juke and the Qashqai will also be produced remains to be seen.



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