BMW Mini has revealed they will undertake a multi-million pound investment to transform their Oxford plant, securing 4000 jobs and focusing on the electric vehicle supply chain. It's the largest and oldest of the three Mini plants across the UK, including Plant Swindon where the body panels and some assemblies are made, and Plant Hams Hall which produces petrol engines.
The plant in Cowley currently employs 4,500 staff who build more than 1,000 Minis each day.
More than three million cars have been built in Oxford since it opened.
However, with the sale of petrol and diesel cars to end in 2030, the factory will need to build electric cars again.
All Minis will be electric by 2030.
'Small, nippy and affordable', the original Mini was a sensation when it first went on sale in 1959 just as many households, hitherto predominantly carless, were thinking of splashing out on a vehicle.
It was seen as the first "classless car" and remained hugely popular for decades.
Last week Stellantis, makers of Vauxhall, Peugeot, Citroen and Fiat, announced the start of electric vehicle production after their £100m investment to make their site in Ellesmere Port their first globally dedicated solely to producing EVs.Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “BMW’s investment is another shining example of how the UK is the best place to build cars of the future.”
Asked about speculation that the amount of Government funding for BMW in relation to its Oxford plant is around £75 million, Business Secretary Kemi Badenoch told reporters: “I won’t comment on the figure because that creates difficulties in future negotiations.
“What I will say is that we do provide some subsidy, very light subsidy, in the auto industry because it faces so much difficulty, and some of that is regulatory.
“So if we’re asking manufacturers to transition to net zero, that creates additional costs which make it a little bit harder so we do have to factor that in.
“As much as I would love it to be so, the global auto industry is not a pure free trade market as we see with some kinds of consumer goods.
“So we have to think very carefully about which industries you want in the UK.”
The car company makes 40,000 electric Minis each year at its UK factory. Bosses said they will continue to build petrol Mini Coopers in three-door and five-door hatchback models.
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: "I warmly welcome the announcement that BMW and the Government plan to invest £600m in MINI Plant Oxford.
“Oxford City Council is proud of our strong working relationship with BMW. This proposed investment will secure thousands of green jobs for local people, protecting the livelihood of many Oxford families. It will strengthen Oxford's position as a key player in the global electric vehicle industry, benefitting small businesses in our area.
“MINI Plant Oxford is an integral part of Oxford's history, economy and identity. The plant has been at the heart of our city's communities and industry for over a century, and we look forward to working with BMW and others to help ensure it stays that way for generations to come, starting with the planning."
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt added: “The UK has a proud history of manufacturing and BMW’s investment is a huge vote of confidence in this country as a global leader in electric vehicles.
"And following Stellantis beginning electric vehicle production at Ellesmere Port, just last week, to Tata’s gigafactory, this industry is motoring, creating thousands of jobs and powering our green transition.”
The Department for Business and Trade announced that a major BMW Electric Mini announcement is set to take investment in the UK Automotive Sector to over £6bn from 2020.