Huge win for British manufacturing as BMW ‘funds electric Mini Cooper factory’

BMW is expected to announce an investment worth hundreds of millions of pounds in its Mini Cooper factory near Oxford.

The German car giant aims to build a new generation of electric cars in the Cowley plant – with production of two new models to begin in 2026.

The decision to build the new models in the plant is expected to safeguard the future of the facility, and another factory in Swindon.

£600million will be spent on the Cowley site, including developing production lines, extending its body shop and building a new area for installing batteries.

It also intends to construct extra logistics facilities at Cowley and at the Swindon factory, which makes body panels for new vehicles.

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More than 4,000 people currently work between the two sites.

As a result of the investment, two next-generation electric designs will be built at Cowley alongside older designs.

These are electric versions of the Mini Cooper and larger Mini Aceman.

A third electric model, the Countryman, will be made in Germany.

The investment has been boosted by the government’s Automotive Transformation Fund to a value of £75million, it is understood.

Minis are set to be full electric by 2030, meaning the two UK factories needed the transformation to survive beyond this date.

The first electric mini was launched from the Coly plant in 2019 – but last year, the company confirmed production of most of its electric cars would move to China.

Originally the company said it would be inefficient to build both traditionally-fuelled and electric cars in the same factory, though appear to have changed their tune.

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said BMW’s investment was “another shining example of how the UK is the best place to build cars of the future”.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch told the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme that the news was “exciting” and would ensure the sector “continues to be buoyant”.

“The automotive sector is one that is very critical to the UK economy and it is facing headwinds, so ensuring we’re able to sustain it with continual investment in the industry is fantastic,” she added.

Various government-backed investments have sought to promote new electric vehicle manufacture, as new diesel and petrol power cars will be banned from 2035.

Jaguar Land Rover’s owner, the Indian group Tata, said in July it would build a giant “gigafactory” to produce batteries in Somerset, a project expected to benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayer support.

While Stellantis has just begun production of electric vans at its Ellesmere Port factory in Cheshire and Nissan is expanding output of EVs at its Sunderland factory.

Its partner Envision AESC is also building a gigafactory close by.

Meanwhile Ford is investing heavily in its Halewood plant, preparing it to build electric motors.

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