It's confirmed: BMW's all-electric Mini is being built at the Cowley plant in the UK

Rebecca Smith
The Oxford plant rolls out Minis for BMW
The Oxford plant rolls out Minis for BMW (Source: Getty)

A fully-electric version of the Mini is to be built at BMW's plant at Cowley, in Oxford, the car firm has announced.

The decision marks a boost for the future of the Cowley plant, after question marks arose over where BMW would choose to make the car, with ongoing Brexit uncertainty. Mini makes around 60 per cent of its 360,000 or so cars a year at Oxford, though BMW had also been building up a base in the Netherlands.

As to whether the car firm had been offered any assurances, as Nissan said it was before it pledged a commitment its Sunderland plant, a BMW group spokesperson said: "We have neither sought nor received any ‘assurances’ from the government."

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They added:

As in any country where we have large-scale operations, we are in regular contact with the government regarding a variety of issues. When it comes to Brexit, we have made no secret of our hope that the negotiations will end in an agreement which is pragmatic and supportive when it comes to business and free trade.

Today, BMW said the new battery-electric Mini will be a variant of the brand's three door model, with the fully electric car going into production in 2019.

The electric drivertrain for the vehicles however, will be built at BMW's e-mobility centre at Dingolfing and Landshut plants in Bavaria, before being integrated into the car in Oxford, which will be "the main production location for the Mini 3 door model", BMW confirmed.

Oliver Zipse, BMW AG management board member for production said:

BMW Group plants Dingolfing and Landshut play a leading role within our global production network as the company’s global competence centre for electric mobility.

Our adaptable production system is innovative and able to react rapidly to changing customer demand. If required, we can increase production of electric drivetrain motor components quickly and efficiently, in line with market developments.

By 2025, BMW expects electric vehicles to make up between 15 and 25 per cent of sales. It currently produces electric models at 10 plants worldwide.

Business secretary Greg Clark praised the announcement as "a vote of confidence in the determination of our industrial strategy to make Britain the go-to place in the world for the next generation of vehicles".

He added:

BMW’s decision recognises the strength of the excellent workforce, our record of innovation and the productive relationship between the automotive sector and the government.

In March, BMW's chief executive Harald Krueger said while the UK remained important for the company, "much will depend on how Brexit is ultimately negotiated" and BMW was preparing for different scenarios.

"Our production network offers us flexibility," Krueger said. "Mini models are also built at VDL Nedcar in Born in the Netherlands. Now China, our new engine plant, the fourth worldwide, began operations in 2016. Our two auto plants in Tiexi and Dadong already produce five models."

And the car industry in general has been vocal with its concerns over Brexit, warning that interruption to its global supply chains from the introduction of tariffs could be substantial. Last month, the boss of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) called for a transitional deal for leaving the European Union to prevent the automotive sector falling off a "cliff edge".

Some 80 per cent of the 1.7m cars built each year in Britain are exported.

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