BMW to Invest £600m in UK Factories for Electric Mini Production


German automotive behemoth, BMW, is set to reveal its plan to invest a staggering sum into preparing its Mini plant near Oxford for the production of next-generation electric vehicles. The assembly of two new electric Mini models is slated to commence at the Cowley facility in 2026.

This strategic move is poised to secure the prospect of the Cowley facility and another factory in Swindon. These establishments currently employ more than 4,000 workers. An estimated £600m is expected to be pumped into revamping the Cowley plant, enhancing production lines, expanding its body shop, and creating new zones to house battery installation.

Further additions include logistic facilities in Cowley and Swindon to aid the assembly of the next series of electric vehicles encompassing the Mini Cooper and the larger Mini Aceman. Alongside traditionally fueled vehicles, these electric models will be manufactured in Cowley. Another model, the Countryman, is scheduled for production in Germany.

The UK government’s Automotive Transformation Fund is set to support this massive investment, with an estimated £75m backing. Both the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch applauded BMW’s move as testament to the UK’s automotive sector prowess and the success of its government’s strategic plans.

With the Mini brand forecast to be entirely electric by 2030, this move by BMW is critical for the future of the two UK factories. The launch of the first electric Mini was at the Cowley plant back in 2019, however, production was later shifted to China in collaboration with Great Wall Motor. Though originally deeming the parallel production of conventional and electric cars in the same factory inefficient, BMW changed its standpoint.

Manufacture of the new models will start in China at Great Wall’s factory next year, with Cowley expected to join in 2026. This move forms part of a series of government-backed investments aimed at fostering the development of electric vehicles in the UK, before the 2035 prohibition of new petrol and diesel-powered cars.

In recent developments, Tata Motors — Jaguar Land Rover’s parent company — revealed plans to build a massive ‘gigafactory’ for battery production in Somerset. Other companies including Stellantis, Nissan and Ford are also ramping up their electric vehicle operations. However, the industry has had its setbacks, as seen with the closures of Ford’s Bridgend engine plant in 2020 and Honda’s Swindon factory in 2021.

Despite these, analysts believe BMW’s announcement represents excellent news for the UK industry. Yet, unanswered questions, such as the source of the batteries for cars built at the Cowley production line, remain. This could become a critical matter soon, as from next year, new regulations could impose steep tariffs on cars with batteries manufactured outside the UK or EU. BMW and other businesses are currently lobbying in the UK and EU for these measures to be eased or postponed.


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