BMW has confirmed it will build the fully electric version of the Mini at its existing plant in Oxford in the UK – although the drivetrain will be manufactured at the OEM’s e-mobility centre at the Dingolfing and Landshut plants in Germany.
The BMW Group currently produces electrified models, including hybrids, at ten plants worldwide; since 2013, all the significant elements of the electric drivetrain for these has come from the company’s plants in Dingolfing and Landshut.
The fully electric Mini will be based on the three-door Hatch and will go into production in 2019, according to BMW.
There had been fears BMW might opt to move production of the electric Mini out of the UK, given the lack of clarity around the eventual outcome of the UK’s negotiations to leave the EU in 2019.
A Bloomberg news report has said the plant will make the car until at least 2023, citing an unnamed source, at which point BMW could consider a new production location for the next generation of the model.
Nissan Europe's head of supply chain, Colin Lawther has previously expressed concerns that importing drive trains into the UK could also be another challenge in meeting eventual rules-of-origin requirements as part of a potential trade deals negotiated between the UK and other countries post Brexit.
“If you are importing 50% of the car, which is the EV powertrain, there is no way you are going to achieve rules of origin,” Lawther told lawmakers earlier this year.
Mini has three facilities in the UK: the Hams Hall plant produces petrol engines; the Oxford plant remains responsible for body shell production, paint and assembly; and the Swindon site produces pressings and sub-assemblies.
Between 2012 and 2015, BMW Group invested £750m ($978m) in the plants, taking investment in UK production to £1.75 billion since 2000.
About 60% of the 360,000 Minis produced annually are made in the UK.
Outside of the country, contract manufacturer VDL Nedcar has also manufactured Minis at its plant in the Netherlands since 2013. This includes the Mini Cooper SE Countryman ALL4, a plug-in hybrid version of the Mini Countryman.
Oliver Zipse, BMW’s 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 components quickly and efficiently, in line with market developments.”
To date, BMW has invested more than €100m ($116m) in electro-mobility at the Dingolfing site.
The BMW Group already has nine electric vehicles on the market and claims to offer the widest range of any car manufacturer in the world, although most of these are currently hybrid versions. The carmaker's first all-electric vehicle, the i3, is built in Leipzig, in eastern Germany, which also builds the i8 plug-in hybrid.
The company expects to sell 100,000 electrified vehicles in 2017 and says it will have 200,000 electrified vehicles on the roads by the end of this year.
UK trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has welcomed the decision to build the electric Mini in Britain, suggesting it will boost EV take-up there.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: "Alternatively fuelled vehicle registrations have experienced significant growth in recent times – up 27.5% this year alone – but consumer adoption is still at a relatively low level. As part of a broad industrial strategy, government must create the conditions for this technology to flourish, including infrastructure and long-term incentives for this new generation of vehicles to be the car of choice of more motorists.”