BMW will end production of electric minis in the UK next year

BMW has confirmed it will stop building the electric version of the Mini in the UK next year, leaving the Oxford plant entirely dependent on petrol models for much of the coming decade.

The German automaker launched its first battery version of the historic Mini Cooper in 2019, as part of a wave of models released by manufacturers to help them meet tougher European emissions regulations.

The model has proved more successful than expected, winning numerous awards and growing to account for a third of the vehicles produced at BMW’s Oxford plant.

The German automaker announced in 2019 that it would produce an updated battery-powered Mini in China from 2024, which it will export worldwide, including to the UK.

The model from BMW’s Chinese joint venture partner, Great Wall Motors, will have about twice the range of the current version.

Last November, BMW officially announced the end of the first electric mini built in Oxford.

Although the automaker had always planned to end production after four years – about half of the industry’s usual life cycle – the withdrawal of one of the most popular British-built battery models will still be a blow to the industry.

Jaguar Land Rover’s first electric car, the Jaguar I-Pace, is already being manufactured in Austria, while Norfolk-based company Lotus will produce its first electric SUVs at a plant in China.

However, new investments from Nissan and Stellantis mean that UK electric vehicle production is expected to continue to grow in the years to come.

The UK car industry has called for more support during the fuel transition, particularly to encourage battery makers to invest in the UK to enable current plants to convert to electric over the next decade.

The most popular British-built electric car remains the Nissan Leaf, which is built in Sunderland.

Although BMW’s Oxford plant was adapted to manufacture the electric model in 2019 and is capable of producing petrol and battery cars side-by-side, the assembly line required extra manual labor to assemble that every time an electric version was made imported Germany battery.

The plant is “simply not geared towards the mass production” of electric cars, said Mini boss Stefanie Wurst.

The factory will require “big investments” to be able to produce battery models on a large scale in the future, she added.

The company expects electric car production to return to Oxford at a later date, but hasn’t set a date for the next model.

Typically, automakers renew their vehicles every seven or eight years, so the decision on the future generation of the upcoming electric Mini will likely be made towards the end of this decade.

The Mini brand has committed to selling only electric cars by the early 2030s and intends to always keep a base in Oxford.

The plant will produce petrol five- and three-door versions, as well as the open top model previously manufactured in the Netherlands.

BMW also produces Mini in Germany in Leipzig, where it will make the electric version of the larger Mini Countryman. The new Chinese plant will also produce an all-electric model called the Aceman. BMW will end production of electric minis in the UK next year

Adam Bradshaw

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