BMW is to secure UK production for the all new J01 electric MINI Cooper. We first reported the rumors of BMW building the J01 in Oxford last fall. But since that time there appears to be multiple points of confirmation that point to China being only one part of the production strategy. And perhaps more importantly the move would clear the way for the all new J01 electric MINI Cooper to eventually come to the North American market.

Recently Sky News reported that BMW has secured UK government funding to help expand the Oxford Plant for the new range of electric MINIs. While an official announcement won’t likely come until late this spring, it’s believed that the investment package will be worth close to £500m – £75m of which would be from the UK Government.

It would be a huge boost for the UK auto industry that’s seen an exodus over the last several years. And for MINI fans it’s a huge development as it would bring the highly anticipated J01 electric MINI Cooper to key market such as the United States.

electric MINI Cooper

When Will The Electric MINI Cooper Begin Production in the UK?

Stefanie Wurst, Head of MINI, has previously hinted that some new generation electric MINIs will be assembled at Plant Oxford beginning in 2027. We’ve also had a source confirm that timing saying it would coincide with a refresh of the model planed in the middle of its lifecycle.

That timing makes a lot of sense to us. It would allow MINI to further refine the car and potentially even add range ahead of a US market introduction. Currently the estimated WLTP range is between 240 and 250 miles. However that translates into roughly 200 miles EPA range which is still lower than many feel comfortable with – especially in colder climates.

With the addition of the J01 electric MINI Cooper, this means Oxford would be producing the ICE F66 MINI Cooper, F65 five door and F67 Convertible in total. Eventually We’d expect the Aceman to also move to UK production.

electric MINI Cooper

Chinese Production Issues for the J01 Electric MINI Cooper

The current F56 electric MINI Cooper was always meant to be a stop-gap while BMW designed and built a new one from the ground up. However to make the economics work, BMW had to find a company to partner to help defray the enormous costs associated with creating a new vehicle from scratch. That company, Great Wall Motors seemed to be the perfect choice having quickly become an expert of electrified vehicles thanks to China’s stringent laws mandating their sales.

However just months after the agreement was signed, US/Chinese relations began to implode. One thing led to another and tariffs on goods were announced on both sides. For electric cars that meant a 25% tariff on any Chinese car imported to the US. For a small car with equally small profit margins, those tariffs have proven impossible for MINI USA to solve for. 

And now things are getting even more complex. According to ‘Manager Magazin’, a German monthly business magazine, talks are ongoing between BMW, GWM and Chinese officials about exactly what will be built at the Chinese plant in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, with an annual capacity of 160,000 cars and production set to start this year. There is, however, a problem.

electric MINI Cooper

The essential NEV (New Electric Vehicle) production license for China has yet to be signed by the authorities. The papers will now be handed over at the China Development Forum at the end of March. However, Spotlight Automotive has yet to receive the go-ahead for the already complete Jiangsu factory.

How could this be happening? Given the push towards electric vehicles in China, there’s been a massive amount of start-ups over the last few years. That has created massive overcapacities, reportedly making MINI wait until one of these shoe-string budget operation fails and its precious license made available to the next inline.

Ever since the founding of Spotlight Automotive in 2019, the cooperation with BMW has taken several unexpected turns. GWM decided, for instance, not to sell its own rebadged MINI clone in China after all; production of US-bound MINI models is to be shifted from Zhangjiagang to Oxford; and the JV reportedly covers only the first two lifecycles.

With MINI’s volume target rising from 293,000 to 500,000 annual sales this decade, other plants were invited to make a case for investment. As we now know, Plant Oxford put forward the winning argument and so BMW will be refitting the factory to assemble the new generation ICE and EV models side by side.

What This Means for The Next Generation Electric MINIs?

Oxford, England (SOP 11/23)Leipzig, Germany (SOP 11/23)China (SOP 11/23)
G66 ICE Cooper 3 doorU25 ICE CountrymanJ01 Electric Cooper 3 Door
G66 ICE Cooper S 3 doorU25 ICE Countryman SJ01 Electric Cooper S 3 Door
G66 ICE Cooper JCW 3 doorU25 ICE Countryman JCWJ01 Electric Cooper JCW 3 Door
G65 ICE Cooper 5 doorU25 Electric CountrymanJ05 Electric Aceman
G65 ICE Cooper S 5 doorU25 Electric Countryman SJ05 Electric Aceman S
G67 ICE Cooper ConvertibleU25 Electric Countryman JCWJ05 Electric Aceman JCW
G67 ICE Cooper S Convertible
G67 ICE JCW Convertible
For 2024 the next generation MINIs will be built in three plants however the product mix will shift in 2027

In short the recent developments have made it clear that MINI is committed to bringing the J01 electric MINI Cooper and J05 MINI Aceman to such markets as the US. While it’ll still be 2-3 years before we see the change, that time will allow for MINI to further refine both cars, improving them both as they become fully global cars.