Mini’s historic plant in Cowley, outside Oxford, will no longer produce electric vehicles. For now, the automaker plans to build its EVs in China, with the help of BMW’s partner, Great Wall.
The Times reports that, in addition to the electric Mini, the brand’s upcoming Aceman previewed recently by a concept car, will be built in China. The electric version of the Mini Countryman, meanwhile, will be built at BMW’s plant in Leipzig, Germany.
That leaves the Oxford factory without any EVs, leading to fears that the plant might be made obsolete and given up on entirely by BMW and Mini. Rumors indicated that Great Wall might buy the plant and produce its own vehicles there.
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The new head of Mini, Stefanie Wurst, denied those rumors, however, stating unequivocally that “Oxford will always be the home of Mini.” She added that the decision to halt EV production at the plant was not linked to Brexit nor to cross-border friction between the U.K. and the E.U. caused thereby.
She pointed, instead, to production efficiencies. Or, rather, inefficiencies caused by producing both internal combustion and electric vehicles on the same line.
“Oxford is not geared up for electric vehicles,” Wurst told The Times. “It will need renovation and investment.”
Although she could provide no details on when the electric Minis would return to the Oxford plant, she did say that when they do, it will be on an assembly line platform developed by Great Wall. The existing lines at the factory, meanwhile, would be stripped out completely as part of a major factory overhaul.
Both Wurst and Great Wall indicated that the Chinese automaker might also use the plant to produce its own vehicles from brands such as Ora and Wey. A spokesperson for the Chinese company said that building its own vehicles at Cowley was the subject of “internal discussion.”