Industry welcomes BMW investment

The UK automotive industry has welcomed the news that BMW is investing £600m to upgrade its facility in Oxford to manufacture electric vehicles.

BMW will produce electric Minis from 2026, securing upwards of 4,000 jobs.

The news comes after Stellantis announced it was transforming its Ellesmere Port factory into an all-electric site.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “BMW’s landmark announcement is 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. British automotive manufacturing has clear advantages – a skilled, highly productive workforce, cutting edge plants, a diverse vibrant supply chain and world-class R&D – all of which we must continue to promote in the face of fierce global competition. Investments such as this improve productivity and help deliver jobs, growth and economic benefits for the country.”

Meanwhile, Mark Tisshaw, editor, Autocar Business, said:“Of the five major car makers building vehicles in Britain, four have now confirmed plans or are already building electric vehicles in the UK: JLR, Nissan, Stellantis and now Mini. The future of UK car manufacturing in the electric era has long felt uncertain, but with each passing announcement positivity grows that the car building industry can not only survive but thrive.

“The Mini announcement, while somewhat of an open secret, is still hugely significant. However, Oxford’s path to going fully electric has been an unusual one. Mini’s Oxford plant will actually stop making EVs from early next year in the Mini Cooper’s next generation and once again focus solely on making petrol cars until 2026. In the current line-up, electric versions of the hatchback are built alongside the petrol ones.

“The rapid adoption of EVs since the Mini Cooper’s third iteration from 2014 launch meant BMW had to – and managed to – retrofit the architecture with the capacity for an EV powertrain in response.

“With a ready-made replacement for the current Mini EV available from China, the decision was taken for Oxford’s full return to petrol cars – for now. In 2026, all that will change, securing Oxford’s future in the process.”