BMW appears to keep prepping Oxford for electric Minis
BMW plans to invest up to £600 million to ready its Oxford plant for building electric Mini cars. The BBC broke the news without naming specific sources. The British government has offered BMW 75 million pounds in subsidies to keep the Cowley plant going.
BMW had not previously disclosed how much it would invest in Oxford. In a statement seen by the BBC, the German carmaker said it had a “continuous and productive dialogue with UK Government”, but it declined to comment on any future production plans.
While the Cowley plant has been making electric Minis since 2019, based on an existing ICE design and converted to EV, BMW has since suggested moving production elsewhere. Reports in October 2022 suggested BMW could stop building the electric Mini in the UK entirely. It would continue to produce its conventional models there and move its EV production to China through its partnership with Great Wall, while the electric Countryman will be built in Leipzig, Germany.
However, German media in November 2022 wrote that BMW would continue building the electric Mini in the UK after all since production sites in China and Germany were not sufficient on their own.
At the same time, BMW suggested that building both conventionally fuelled and electric cars in the same factory was inefficient.
However, with the sale of new non-hybrid petrol and diesel-powered cars due to end in 2030, the factory will ultimately have to build electric cars again, if it is to continue operating.
Earlier this week, Mini announced plans to launch three all-electric Mini cars in 2024 and 2025, starting with the new hatch Cooper, the electric Countryman and the Aceman as reported.
What is more, the next generation electric car for Mini will sit on its own platform developed by Great Wall, starting with the Mini Cooper. So even if parallel ICE-EV production at the Cowley plant was long considered inefficient and too costly, it seems that BMW may have found a way around it. The Cooper may also become the last Mini to be offered as an EV and ICE. All Minis will be electric by 2030.
Information about talks between BMW and the government about subsidies had already leaked out at the beginning of February. At that time, Sky News had already mentioned a possible subsidy of up to 75 million pounds from the Automotive Transformation Fund of the British Ministry of Business, Energy and Industry.
In addition, according to the BBC, the Indian carmaker Tata Motors, now owner of JLR, is negotiating with the British government about financing a possible battery cell factory. As reported, Spain is also being discussed for this.