BMW Group will reportedly stop making electric MINIs in the United Kingdom by the end of 2023 and move production to China once the next-generation Cooper SE model launches.
The German automaker has decided to make electric hatchbacks and a small electric crossover in China through its Spotlight Automotive Limited joint venture with Great Wall Motor. BMW announced in November 2021 that it would start making electric MINIs at a new plant in China's eastern province of Jiangsu from 2023. However, the automaker did not say at the time that EV production would stop in the UK.
Meanwhile, the new head of MINI, Stefanie Wurst, told The Times last week that making electric and gasoline cars on the same line at the Oxford plant has been inefficient. "Oxford is not geared up for electric vehicles. It will need renovation and investment," she said. As a result, existing lines will be stripped out as part of a major overhaul at an unspecified future date, Wurst added.
That said, the executive did leave the door open for future MINI EV production in the UK. She told the paper that when electric MINIs are built again in Britain, it will be on an assembly-line platform developed by Great Wall. Asked when MINI EVs will return to Oxford, she said: "There is no date."
Asked whether the Oxford plant could build both MINIs and Great Wall vehicles like Ora or Wey at some unspecified time in the future, Wurst replied: "Maybe." A spokesman for Great Wall told The Times that the possibility of producing its own vehicles at the Oxford factory has been discussed internally, without providing details. We contacted BMW Group for clarifications regarding this report and will update this story when we hear back.
BMW makes 40,000 electric MINIs a year at its Cowley factory on the outskirts of Oxford. The announcement that MINI will stop making EVs in the UK (for the time being, at least) comes at a time when the UK is trying to transition its already diminished auto industry to fully electric models.
After becoming home to Europe's first mass-produced electric car—the MINI Cooper SE in 2019—the UK is falling behind other countries in developing a manufacturing base for battery and electric vehicles. The Oxford plant will get a new ICE convertible model in 2025, MINI's boss previously said.
Besides building the successor to the MINI Cooper SE in China, BMW Group's joint venture with Great Wall Motor will also make the MINI Aceman electric subcompact crossover. As for the next-generation MINI Countryman and its all-electric variant, production will move from VDL Nedcar's plant in the Netherlands to Leipzig, Germany.