According to a report by The Times on October 14, German auto company BMW Group will stop producing its MINI electric vehicles in Oxford, England, and will instead transfer its production line to China before the end of next year.
On October 16, BMW responded to Chinese media, saying that the Oxford factory will suspend the production of electric vehicles, but will not stop the production of MINI models. It also made it clear that Spotlight Automotive, a joint venture established by China’s GWM (Great Wall Motor) and BMW Group, will produce pure electric MINI models. However, BMW has not yet responded to whether MINI electric vehicles will only be produced in China.
As the hometown of the iconic MINI brand, the Oxford factory is the model’s main production base. After the electrification transformation of MINIs, electric vehicles are also produced in line with internal combustion vehicles at the Oxford factory. The MINI COOPER SE, the first electric car under the MINI brand, was first produced at the Oxford site for export to the global market.
However, Stefanie Wurst, the new head of BMW’s MINI brand, said in an interview with the media recently that the Oxford factory is not ready for electric vehicles. As part of the joint venture between GWM and BMW, the next generation of pure EVs, the MINI Aceman, will be produced in China instead.
In September of this year, the MINI brand’s first electric concept car, “Aceman,” was unveiled in Shanghai. In November of last year, MINI announced that it would manufacture two pure electric vehicles in China in 2023. It is estimated that by 2027, pure electric vehicles will account for 50% of MINI’s global sales.
BMW Group said that China is becoming the fastest-growing market for MINIs in the world, and that the country will become a focus of MINI’s global strategy. The pure electric vehicles will be made in China at the Spotlight Automobile production base. According to the plan, the last fuel-powered vehicle of the MINI brand will be launched in 2025, and by early 2030, MINI will become the first brand under BMW Group to realize pure electrification. In addition, by 2030, MINI’s single-vehicle carbon emissions will be reduced by at least half compared with 2019.
BMW and GWM previously established a joint venture company, Spotlight Automobile, with total investment of about 5.1 billion yuan ($708.3 million). The base is Zhangjiagang City, Jiangsu Province, and it is planned to be completed in 2022. This is BMW’s first pure electric vehicle joint venture project in the world, with a planned production capacity of 160,000 vehicles per year.
GWM has previously stated that the cooperation between the two parties includes not only production, but also the joint R&D of pure EVs in China’s new energy vehicle market. It is expected that future MINI pure electric vehicles and other new products from GWM will be put into production here.