BMW will stop making electric versions of Mini hatchbacks in the UK, dealing a setback to a country trying to transition its already diminished auto industry to full-electric models.
Although the Mini factory near Oxford, England, will again start making convertibles starting in 2025, BMW has elected to make electric hatchbacks and a small SUV in China through its partnership with Great Wall Motor, according to a spokesman.
The automaker announced in November last year it would start producing electric Minis at a new plant in the eastern province of Jiangsu beginning in 2023.
After becoming home to Europe’s first mass-produced electric car, the UK is falling behind other countries in cultivating a battery and EV manufacturing base.
Bloomberg reported this week that Britishvolt, a battery-making hopeful to which the government has pledged funding, has been in talks about selling its main cell factory site.
Jaguar Land Rover, the nation’s top auto manufacturer, has discussed sourcing batteries for a range of EVs it might assemble in Slovakia, people familiar with the matter said in May.
Overall auto production has also been falling in the UK.
The Times reported earlier that BMW was ceasing production of electric Minis at its Oxford plant. The newspaper cited Stefanie Wurst, the new head of Mini, saying that making electric and gasoline cars on the same line has been inefficient.
She told the paper that when electric Minis are built again in Britain, it will be on an assembly-line platform developed by Great Wall, and that existing lines will be stripped out as part of a major overhaul at an unspecified future date.
A spokesman for Great Wall told The Times that possibly producing its own vehicles at the Oxford factory has been discussed.