By Chris Ward, October 18, 2022
BMW will relocate production of the electric Mini hatch from the UK to China in a move seen as a betrayal to UK workers. It is also a grim reminder of the UK’s current economic crisis caused by many headwinds. The main crosswinds are Brexit and political turmoil causing economic despair and bewilderment to anyone seeking to utilize the UK’s proven automotive expertise. However, with the switch to electric cars, a great transition is occurring before our very eyes. The Chinese electric car industry is accelerating and out-developing the UK at a rapid pace. This isn’t about knowledge transfer it is an awakening by the Chinese who are investing billions and yielding dividends as a result.
The result is the Chinese electric auto industry is already winning the race to the top in terms of technological progress and being first in retail. The UK auto industry is witnessing the beginning of a slow decline and the start of the electric car-end game as BMW Mini heads off to China, the land of the setting sun and seemingly endless rising economic opportunities.
BMW Mini will partner with China’s Great Wall Motors to build electric versions of the Mini Hatch starting in 2023. A small SUV will follow. BMW Mini production in Oxford will make convertibles from 2025 as a consolation prize. BMW cited production inefficiencies as the reason for switching production which is hidden code for “were losing money in the UK”.
BMW eventually plans to return production of the electric Mini back to the UK, but declined to specify the timing. When it does, the Oxford production line will be outfitted with tooling and production facilities developed by Great Wall Motors. And if such a situation does ever come to pass, UK car production will become a vassal manufacturing hub to the world’s automotive industry.