BMW has announced plans for a major multi-million pound investment this morning in its electric Mini plant in Oxford, securing the long term future of Mini production in the UK.
The German carmaker will transform its existing factory through a £600m investment, creating 4,000 high-quality jobs in the process, after the government agreed to spend £75m in subsidies.
The new plant will produce two new next-generation electric car designs, the Mini Cooper and the Mini Aceman, with a third model being made in Germany.
It marks a major U-turn for BMW, who in October last year confirmed that production of its electric Minis would shift to China, in what was seen as a major blow to the British automotive sector.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch hailed the news ahead of the announcement, which takes total investment into the UK automotive sector to £6bn over the last two years.
Rishi Sunak said “BMW’s investment is another shining example of how the UK is the best place to build cars of the future.”
“By backing our car manufacturing industry, we are securing thousands of jobs and growing our economy right across the country.”
Kemi Badenoch said “today’s announcement by BMW, coming a week after electric vehicle production started at Stellantis’s site at Ellesmere Port, clearly shows that the government’s plan for the automotive sector is working.”
BMW’s investment comes amid wider concerns in the UK automotive industry over the strength of the countries’ electric vehicle production, with fierce international competition from the US and China.
A slew of carmakers have warned that the UK must improve its domestic supply chain, particularly of vital batteries, or risk losing out as the world races to switch to greener vehicles and a 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles comes into force.
In July, Jaguar owner Tata Group confirmed it had chosen Somerset over Spain for the location of a giant £4bn gigafactory, in what was widely hailed as transformative for the sector and its bid to stay in the global EV race.
Last week, Stellantis, who own Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat, had started the production of EV vehicles at its Ellesmere Port site, following a £100m investment.
The carmaker had previously warned in May that the plant was under threat from post-Brexit tariffs on British exports to the European Union (EU), which are set to come into force.
Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said that BMW’s “landmark” announcement was “yet another vote of confidence in UK automotive manufacturing.”
“Not only does it secure the long-term future of the home of one of the world’s most iconic brands, it also demonstrates once again our capabilities in electric vehicle production,” he added.
BMW’s Oxford factory currently employs over 3,400 people and is the second largest car plant in the UK. In 2022, it produced over 50 per cent of all fully-electric vehicles manufactured in the UK.
Stefanie Wurst, head of the MINI brand, said, “MINI has always been aware of its history – Oxford is and remains the heart of the brand.”
“I am delighted that the two new, fully electric MINI models – the MINI Cooper and MINI Aceman – are also being produced in Oxford, thereby confirming our path to a fully electric future.”