BMW considers manufacturing EVs in Oxford


BMW will apparently continue to have electric cars produced in England for the Mini brand and will convert the plant in Oxford for this purpose – or is at least considering it. According to a media report, the board of directors wants to make a decision to this effect before the end of the year.

This is what the German publication Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung, or FAZ has learned from company circles. Most recently, it was reported that Mini would stop producing electric cars in England in 2023 and relocate to partner Great Wall in China. “Oxford is not equipped for electric vehicles. It needs to be renovated and invested in,” The Times had quoted the head of the Mini brand, Stefanie Wurst.

This is exactly what BMW is now – contrary to statements made in mid-October – apparently planning to do. Because the site in China and the plant in Leipzig, where the Mini Countryman is also to be produced as an electric car, are not sufficient on their own to meet the demand expected by the board, the assembly lines at the plant in Oxford are to be renewed, according to the FAZ. A company spokesperson, however, did not want to comment on the information.

According to the FAZ figures, BMW recently built 40,000 Mini Cooper SE and 140,000 Mini models with combustion engines in Oxford. This parallel production is currently still possible because the electric Mini is based on the combustion engine model. With the upcoming switch to the new electric generation, which is being developed with Great Wall, the electric model will change platforms. Parallel production at the plant, which was built in 1913, was long considered inefficient and too costly because of the necessary investments.

Apparently, this has been reconsidered in Munich. In the absence of a comment from the company’s headquarters, we can only speculate about the background. The FAZ sources from company circles probably stated that the board of directors, as mentioned above, assumes a higher demand for electric vehicles than the capacities in Leipzig and China allow.

It is not known what exactly a possible conversion at the British plant, which has belonged to BMW since 1994, might look like. BMW is considered an advocate of flexible production of several types of drive on one line in order to be able to adapt production to changing demand over the course of the model cycle. It is not clear whether this is feasible at the aged plant.

When presenting the latest quarterly figures, BMW CFO Nicolai Peter had emphasised that Oxford would remain the “heart of Mini production”. However, he subsequently limited this statement to the current combustion engine production, which, according to the information from October, should continue anyway with the three-door, five-door and convertible models. Whether this will soon also apply to the electric models will be decided in the coming weeks – if the board does indeed decide to invest in Oxford this year.

With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany. (in German)


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