A fully electric version of the Mini is to be built at BMW’s plant in Cowley, near Oxford, the carmaker has announced.
The firm’s German owners BMW said the new model will go into production in 2019 and will be a variant of its three-door hatch model.
Its electric drivetrain – which is comprised of a collection of components in a vehicle that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels – will be built in Bavaria, before being integrated into the car at the Cowley site.
The announcement is a vote of confidence for the 4,500-strong workforce at the UK plant in the run-up to Brexit – and comes just weeks after staff voted to accept a new pensions offer following a series of strikes.
Len McCluskey, general secretary of Unite, described the move as “a huge and totally deserved boost to a world-class workforce that has endured a tough few months”.
He said: “Around the world and for generations, the Mini means made in Britain. With the electric Mini being built in Cowley, the tradition continues but with the added bonus that this is one of the important innovations of tomorrow.”
Business Secretary Greg Clark added: “The automotive industry is a great British success story and the Mini is a big part of that.
“UK car production hit a 10-year high last year, with 1.7 million cars made and over 800,000 people employed across the wider industry.
Image: Volvo cars are to be electric or hybrid from 2019
“We want to see the sector continue to innovate and grow here in the UK, supported by initiatives such as the new battery institute as part of our Industrial Strategy.”
BMW said it did not ask for or receive any assurances from the Government before making its decision.
In a statement from Munich, the firm said that electrification was one of the central pillars of the group’s corporate strategy and that additional electric models would be launched in the coming years and beyond 2020.
All of its models were able to be electrified, with a full electric or plug-in hybrid drivetrain being offered in addition to a combustible engine.
It expects electric models – which it manufactures at 10 plants across the world – to account for between 15% and 25% of sales by 2025.
Volvo became the first traditional car maker earlier this month to commit to including an electric motor in all of its new models from 2019.
US firm Tesla’s first mass-market electric car, the Model 3, is expected to be unveiled on Friday
The first vehicle manufacturing facility to be built in Britain for more than a decade opened in Ansty, Coventry, in March to produce a new electric London black taxi.
Latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that 59,000 new alternatively fuelled vehicles have been purchased in the UK so far this year, up 28% over the same period in 2016, amid growing concern about the impact of diesel cars on air quality.
Source: Sky News