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BMW to Build Next-Generation Mini in Oxford

bmw oxford

Announced by the Department for Business and Trade, BMW will unveil plans to build its next-generation electric Mini in Oxford after securing a Government funding package. The German-headquartered manufacturer’s multi-million-pound investment to transform its existing plant will secure 4,000 high-quality jobs, says the Government.

The £600m investment by the German carmaker at the site in Cowley will be backed by about £75m of taxpayer funds. The Government is hoping that this will safeguard the historic plant and deliver a vote of confidence in the UK’s auto industry.

BMW in Oxford

The plant’s future has been under threat since BMW said last year that it would cease production of the first electric Mini model there, leaving the factory reliant on petrol cars, which the German group has promised to phase out by 2030. However, under the plan, BMW will manufacture two new electric models, the 3-door Mini Cooper and the new, smaller Mini Aceman at Oxford. The two models are based on a system developed by BMW and China’s Great Wall Motor.

The move by BMW is crucial to sustaining Britain’s car industry as production has fallen 40% since the start of the pandemic, following plant closures, global parts shortages and decisions by some manufacturers to shift models overseas, though electric production has increased due to rising demand.

The Government has set aside £1bn to try to spur investment in battery technology and to attract new manufacturers such as Tesla. Despite recent investments from Jaguar Land Rover and its owner Tata Motors, as well as Nissan, Stellantis and now BMW, none of the new major entrants has decided to build in the UK. China’s BYD said this year that Brexit meant the UK was not even in the top 10 locations as it considered a site for a European plant.

The fresh investment will also reduce fears over the strategic importance of Cowley to BMW. As well as making the same electric Mini models in China with Great Wall, BMW will make the Mini Countryman, its high-riding version, in Leipzig, Germany. “Oxford is and remains the heart of the brand,” said Mini head Stefanie Wurst. 

Alongside the Oxford plant, BMW also owns an engine factory in Hams Hall, and a metalworks plant in Swindon.

Responses

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed the decision by BMW as “another shining example of how the UK is the best place to build cars of the future”. Sunak also took to X, contending that “this is a major vote of confidence in our car sector which will support high quality jobs and grow our economy”.

Business secretary, Kemi Badenoch, said that the car industry was “one which is very critical to the UK economy and which is facing a lot of headwinds”. Badenoch said there was “no point” having net zero targets if they were impossible to meet, and said the government would remain “flexible” towards its goals.

Cllr Liam Walker also stated that this is “good news for the Oxfordshire economy and local jobs”.

Moreover, BMW’s head of production Milan Nedeljković said “with this new investment we will develop the Oxford plant for the production of the new generation of electric Minis and set the path for purely electric car manufacturing in the future”.

Final thought

The investment demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding the renowned plant, as well as the hope to provide stability and reassurance to the industry in the UK. In addition, this announcement seeks to financially benefit Oxfordshire through the promise of thousands of jobs.

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