BMW refutes rumors of sale of MINI’s Oxford plant to Great Wall
Being a premium brand selling small cars while trying to make a profit isn’t easy. Ask Mercedes because it sold half of its shares in Smart to form a joint venture with Geely. It also sold the Smart factory in Hambach, France, where the BMW-powered Ineos Grenadier off-roader will be built. Audi will drop the A1 supermini and A2 subcompact crossover after the current generation models. What does BMW do? It has also partnered with a Chinese automaker by making MINIs with Great Wall.
A new factory in Zhangjiagang will be operational by 2023 to assemble electric vehicles for MINI and GWM. The Spotlight Automotive Limited joint venture will build up to 160,000 electric cars a year and will also co-develop models for both automakers. According to the Germans Manager’s MagazineBMW Group is considering selling the MINI plant in Oxford to the Chinese company.
The report mentions that MINI’s parent company had actually considered consolidating the entire brand into the Spotlight Automotive Limited joint venture. However, this would probably have led to the closure of the UK factory, which would not have been ideal. Instead, a so-called plan B sees the sale of the Oxford plant to GWM to give the latter access to the European market.
But that’s not happening as MINI will remain under the corporate umbrella of BMW.
The Financial Times mentions that the BMW Group has already shot down these rumors because there is “no doubt” about the offloading of part of MINI to GW. A spokesperson added:
“There are no plans to sell the Mini factory in Oxford. As we strive to become an all-electric brand by 2030, Oxford is an integral part of that strategy. Oxford plays a key role in the production strategy of the BMW Group with its high flexibility, competitiveness and competence, also in the field of electromobility.
In a similar vein, core brand BMW is expanding its presence in China where it will build and sell a 3-Series electric sedan under the name “i3”. Additionally, it increased its stake in the joint venture with Brilliance to 75%. The BMW Brilliance Automotive JV has been renewed until 2040 and annual production will increase after manufacturing around 700,000 cars last year.