In the last month, Mini revealed an entirely new lineup that includes electric cars. Larger batteries, a larger range, and a more durable chassis are the hallmarks of the electric Cooper and Countryman model. However, a deeper problem is facing the German-owned Mini, a British-based company.
So, how can Mini take on such a massive effort to electrify its vehicles? Although it was purchased in 1996 by BMW, at the end of 1996, Mini kept making its tiny hatchbacks across the United Kingdom, with facilities that ranged all the way from Oxford to Birmingham. The most notable thing is that Countryman production was transferred to Austria in 2010, but this could change in the near future.
Mini’s latest electric Countryman is expected to be made in Leipzig, Germany, coming from the factory that gave birth to the BMW i8.
With a $750 million investment from the top executives in Bavaria, It’s obvious that Mini will not have to reinvent its business in the next few years. The massive investment could pay dividends soon also, since Mini states that this capital will be used to retool and updating their Oxford and Swindon factories for electric vehicle production.
“Mini has always been aware of its history–Oxford is and remains the heart of the brand. The continuing high demand for our locally emission-free vehicles shows the openness of the global Mini community to electromobility, which we will be able to serve optimally, also thanks to Oxford,” said Stephanie Wurst, Head of Mini.
In particular, the electronic Mini Cooper and Mini Aceman (so yet, only in a conceptual form) will be manufactured at the Oxford plant from 2026. Furthermore, the plant will be entirely electric by 2030, following the initial retooling in 2019. Also that battery production won’t be a possibility there, as per Milan Nedeljkovic, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
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It’s partly because Mini has yet to release the battery specifications for its most recent models, such as the manufacturer and the size, in a few instances. Nedeljkovic has said that the company is still evaluating options, but he did say Mini will be using batteries manufactured from Europe, according to Reuters.
ICE, as well as EV Minis, will roll off the same line of production until 2030, a company executive said.
However, the news about production doesn’t end there, since Mini announces it will produce the brand latest electric Cooper as well as Aceman models in an independent factory located in China that will begin just two years prior, which will be in 2024.
The company is located within Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu Province, Mini states that the facility was a collaboration of Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Great Wall Motors. Mini, which produces the same cars at two different locations, Mini and Munich anticipate a massive demand in the near future. It could be overly optimistic.
The Cooper models will be manufactured in Oxford. However, the brand-new Countryman model is slated to move from Oxford to BMW’s Leipzig manufacturing facility for the next generation of production. It is likely because of the common BMW UKL2 platform that the Mini Countryman rides on, as well as the higher-end BMW X1 sibling.
UK Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch poses next to new Mini models.
In the end, this investment from BMW is more about assisting in the United Kingdom as it is about electrification, according to experts. It is reported that the Financial Times says $94 million of UK tax payer money is included in the $750 million, however the outcome will be positive for UK auto workers is net positive.
Following the first electrical Mini Cooper model struggled to be popular, and then the Oxford plant was deemed to be ineffective as BMW had previously stated that it would exclusively manufacture ICE Minis here. But, with a plan to retool the plant and a clear route towards electrification, the future of the Oxford plant and its 4000 employees is in good hands for the time being.
“This decision is a big vote of confidence in the UK economy and the work of this government to ensure the continued strength of our world-leading automotive sector,” said UK Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch.
This announcement comes after the expenditure of five billion by Tata Group into Jaguar Land Rover‘s battery development. In the same way, BMW fleshed out Mini’s metal stamping plant situated in Swindon, UK, late this year, with an investment of $3.7 billion for Mini’s UK manufacturing facilities. However, the Chinese company BYD states that the UK isn’t the ideal location for manufacturing EVs.