There was jubilation in Britain last summer when BMW announced its decision to build the first electric version of the Mini at its Oxford plant in 2019. It was seen as a welcome sign that the UK would still attract for foreign investment even as it extricated itself from the European Union.
But before a single electric Mini has been assembled, BMW has now announced a strategic decision that may have repercussions for its British factory.
BMW said on Friday it has signed a letter of intent with Great Wall Motor to jointly produce electric Mini vehicles in China. Both companies are “in advanced discussions,” BMW said.
A joint venture with Great Wall would give the Munich-based luxury automaker its first Mini plant outside Europe. The site would supply the Chinese domestic market, where BMW sold 560,000 cars last year – one-quarter of its total sales. The carmaker operates two BMW plants in China with its local partner Brilliance.