Boost for BMW Swindon workers as go-ahead given for UK production of new electric Mini

July 25, 2017

Workers at BMW’s Swindon plant are cheering the German car giant’s decision to build the electric version of the Mini in the UK.

The new car, which will enter production in 2019, will be based on the existing Mini three-door Hatch model – body panels and other parts for which are made at the Swindon plant and assembled at BMW’s Cowley factory in Oxford.

BMW, one of the most vocal defenders of remaining in the EU ahead of last year’s referendum, had previously suggested that it could produce the electric Mini in Germany or Holland to avoid uncertainty linked to Brexit. 

However, the engine, battery and drivetrain for the new electric Mini will be made at BMW’s Dingolfing and Landshut plants in Bavaria – which produce electric motors and battery packs for all BMW’s electric cars – and shipped to Cowley to be inserted into the new car.

And commentators pointed out that BMW’s flexible production methods mean an entirely new version of an electric Mini could be built elsewhere in the future, adding that the Cowley-built version is not a new model but an adaptation of an existing one and very little fresh investment is going into either Cowley or Swindon plants to produce it.

Around 800 people are employed at Plant Swindon pressing body panels and sub-assemblies almost exclusively for the Mini.

About 90% of the pressings and almost 80% of its sub-assemblies, such as doors, bonnets and tailgates, for all Minis are produced in Swindon.

The plant also makes panels and sub-assemblies for Minis production outsourced by BMW to a plant in Holland. This plant, known as Nedcar and previously used by Mitsubishi to produce versions of its Colt, was also viewed as a possible site for the new electric Mini as it also builds the Mini Hatch.

Millions of pounds have been spent upgrading the Swindon plant over recent years – an investment that has transformed it into a world-class body manufacturing site and its flexible production methods mean it can make a greater number of panels for different variants of the Mini.

The Swindon plant forms one corner of BMW’s Mini production triangle with Cowley and the Hams Hall engine factory near Birmingham.

Plant Swindon also makes parts for the BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.

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