Few brands are as British as Mini. Even though the company is owned by BMW, it still builds cars in the UK – with a plant in Coleshill making engines, one in Swindon producing body pressings, and a final facility in Cowley, Oxford, which assembles the cars ready for sale.
However, with uncertainty over Brexit negotiations looming, BMW's chairman, Harald Kruger, warned that the latest Mini – an all-electric hatchback – may not be built in the UK at all.
Though the company previously announced plans to build the car in the UK, Kruger suggested that in the event of a hard Brexit with no free trade deal agreed, the firm might build its new electric vehicle elsewhere.
Speaking to the Sunday Times, Kruger said "both sides would lose" if a tariff-free deal was not reached. "Today already there is a second location for Mini," he said. Mini has another manufacturing plant in the Netherlands, while the car's battery and motors would be imported from Germany – suggesting that car production might be relocated there if no free trade deal is reached.
"BMW can't invest into the future if you don't have any free trade agreements," Kruger continued.
The electric Mini concept was shown at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show, and previews a production car which will arrive in 2019. It's part of Mini's new E electric mobility brand, which will eventually encompass hybrid and electric versions of most of the firm's models.