BMW Electric mini

BMW Picks Britain for Electric Mini Despite Brexit

Britain's Business Secretary Greg Clark said BMW announcement is a "vote of confidence in the determination of our industrial strategy to make Britain the go-to place in the world for the next generation of vehicles." He added that UK car production hit a decade-high last year, with 1.7 million cars made across the country.

BMW on July 25  said it would build an all-electric version of its Mini in Britain, a move hailed by the country's government as it negotiates Brexit.

BMW said that the "fully electric car will go into production in 2019."

The new model's electric drivetrain will be built at its plants in Bavaria before being fitted at BMW's plant near Oxford, north of London.

The announcement comes after BMW chief executive Harald Krueger issued a supposed veiled warning at the Munich-based firm's annual general meeting in May regarding future Mini production in the UK.

Brussels and London should show "pragmatism" in Brexit talks to avoid pitfalls that could harm industry, he said at the time, adding that BMW had European production facilities outside the UK that could take on Mini production.

The car industry encapsulates many of the challenges the UK must address as it seeks to disentangle itself from 40 years of EU membership and strike a new trade deal before the March 2019 cutoff date for Britain exiting the bloc.

As well as the potential for high tariffs on finished cars crossing a future UK-EU border, leaving the EU could also disrupt supply chains that see components crossing borders many times for different production processes before being built into vehicles.

Investment in Britain's automobile sector fell in 2016 to less than £1.7 billion (US$2.2 billion) from 2.5 billion in previous years.

But Britain's Business Secretary Greg Clark said of  the BMW announcement: "This landmark decision is a vote of confidence in the determination of our industrial strategy to make Britain the go-to place in the world for the next generation of vehicles."

He added  that UK car production hit a decade-high last year, with 1.7 million cars made across the country.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2017

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