London: BMW will stop manufacturing its electric Minis in the UK and move production to factories in China, dealing yet another blow to Britain’s ambitions in battery-powered vehicles, the Times reported.
The German car manufacturer builds around 40,000 electric, Mini vehicles a year at its factory outside Oxford but will call a halt by the end of next year, the newspaper said on Saturday, citing an executive who leads the Mini brand. BMW plans to shift production of the electric vehicles to its joint venture in China.
Stefanie Wurst, the new chief of Mini, told the newspaper that the Oxford plant was running inefficiently by having to produce electric and petrol cars on the same line. She said the factory needed “renovation and investment” to build electric vehicles, with the old assembly lines stripped out. Still, there was no date for a return to the UK, she said, according to the Times.
BMW will continue to assemble internal combustion-powered Minis in the UK into the 2030s - predominantly for export to the US, Japan and the Middle East, according to the newspaper. However the electric Minis will be built by BMW’s joint venture partner Great Wall Motor Co Ltd. and at its plant in Leipzig.
Meanwhile, three-year-old Britishvolt Ltd., the UK’s attempt to develop a a homegrown electric-vehicle battery giant, is under threat as it seeks emergency funding. Bloomberg this week reported that the firm was considering selling its UK site. The Financial Times said the firm needs some Pound200 million ($223 million) to fund it until next summer and is holding talks with strategic investors.