The aftermath of a Brexit victory may convince BMW to move production of the electric MINI Cooper to either Germany or the Netherlands
It’s hard to imagine an automotive brand that is more connected to the culture of a country than MINI Cooper. MINI has always been an icon for the British automotive industry.
However, it would appear that MINI’s relationship to the United Kingdom is currently under pressure after the recent Brexit victory.
Reports indicate that the electric MINI Cooper could be produced outside of the United Kingdom.
According to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, MINI’s parent company BMW is considering using its manufacturing plants in Regensburg and Leipzig as the site of production for the battery-powered MINI Cooper. This would bring production of the model directly to BMW’s home country.
Another possible location for the production of the electric MINI model is the Netherlands. One in three MINI Cooper vehicles are already manufactured at the BMW plant in Born, Netherlands, including the MINI Countryman.
Regardless of where the electric MINI Cooper ends up being built, production is unlikely to begin until after BMW has completed talks with the British Government about how a “hard” Brexit could affect the automaker.
“The result of the EU referendum creates uncertainty for the automotive sector in general and for overseas investors in particular,” said BMW spokesperson Emma Begley. “Uncertainty is not helpful when it comes to making long-term business decisions.”
Prior to the United Kingdom’s official vote to leave the European Union last summer, BMW had been an outspoken opponent of the Brexit movement. BMW, along with other automakers like Toyota, stated that the decision to leave the European Union could result in exporting from the United Kingdom becoming more expensive.
Manufacturing the electric MINI Cooper model in the United Kingdom would be beneficial in the nation’s mission to become a world leader in battery development. Greg Clark, the business secretary of the United Kingdom, offered to financially support electric car research.
Currently, Nissan manufactures its electric Nissan Leaf model at the company’s UK plant in Sunderland. Meanwhile, Jaguar Land Rover has displayed interest in manufacturing electric vehicles in the United Kingdom.
Clark even reached out to French company PSA last month to discuss the possibility of developing electric Opel vehicles in the United Kingdom. PSA is currently in discussions to purchase the Opel brand from General Motors.
On the other hand, BMW is weary of the prospect of the UK leaving the single market. The decision to do so would result in the automaker being charged tariffs on imports and exports if it chose to maintain production in the UK.
BMW issued the following statement in regards to these concerns:
“The BMW group has always made clear that we believe integration of the UK into the EU single market, maintaining free movement of goods, services, capital and talent, would be best for business. What’s important for us is that the UK’s negotiations with the EU result in uncomplicated, tariff-free access to the EU single market in future.”
If BMW believes that manufacturing in the United Kingdom would be harmful to its financial interests, then the world’s most British automobile may not be made in Britain for very much longer.