BMW's Oxford factory in England is currently the favoured location for building an electric version of the Mini despite Britain's planned departure from the European Union, sources have told Reuters. Kate King reports.
The first Minis were built by the British Motor Corporation 50 years ago, a small car packing a big punch for the economy. Now, sources familiar with BMW telling Reuters the company favours its Oxford factory in England as a base for building an electric version of the mini. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "Well, the Cowley plant is a very productive plant and I think that plays to the advantage and offsets some of the risks, the geopolitical risks, that are present right now in UK car production. You also look at the the encouragement the UK government has tried to provide to international carmakers and you think most notably Nissan who managed to extract some concessions out of the U.K. government." Mini makes around 60 percent of its 360,000 cars a year at Oxford, but it's also built up an alternative manufacturing base in the Netherlands. Carmakers, particularly, are worried that global supply chains will be hit hard by any introduction of tariffs post Brexit The electric Mini will use components delivered from BMW's plants in Bavaria. Securing state support could ensure a more efficient production process. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "It has to be said these foreign direct investment decisions are not made solely on tariffs and customs. They're made on the skill of the workforce, the productivity, the currency position of course. The UK has benefitted from the devaluation sterling which will make it more cheap." Since BMW bought Mini in 1994, it has invested heavily in the UK. Between 2012 and 2015 alone it spent 750 million pounds to upgrade manufacturing sites in Oxford, Hams Hall and Swindon. Further financial injection would certainly give Britain a vote of confidence.