Mini could be bailing on the island, could Bentley, Rolls-Royce and other UK automakers follow?
The political turmoil rippling throughout the world that’s raising both borders and import taxes has had obvious effects on the economy, with the pound and euro falling in value, leaving automakers unsure about how to proceed. While all are attempting to capitalize off of the new anti regulation government in the US, others are preparing for the worst. Speaking with Bloomberg, BMW CEO Harald Krueger outlined his plans for BMW and its subsidiary Mini for the coming years and suffice it to say, things could change drastically.
While BMW plans to keep advancing plans for its Mexico plant despite Trump’s threats to levy an import tax, things are looking a bit different in the UK, where it manufacturers the Mini. Mini’s current production center is at its Oxford, England plant, although a facility in the Netherlands pulls some weight of its own. Since the details of Brexit are still being worked out, it’s unclear as to how BMW will proceed with Mini production in England, but if the resulting plans end up being bad for business, we can expect one of the most quintessential British cars to no longer be built in the UK. Instead, Mini’s plant in the Netherlands will take over as the primary production facility with other European assembly lines taking over supplemental production.
At least it’s good to know BMW has options. “Our production network offers us flexibility,” said Krueger at BMW’s annual press conference in Munich. Nevertheless, “the U.K. remains an important location for us. Much will depend on how Brexit is ultimately negotiated.” Meanwhile, no comments have been made about BMW’s other UK-based subsidiary, Rolls-Royce, although we suspect that buyers of the high-class vehicles won’t be deterred by higher taxes. On the other hand, BMW’s plans to invest $1 billion for a facility in Mexico will continue going forward, with Krueger having accompanied German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a recent trip to meet with Trump.
While there, Krueger tried to convince Trump that the plant in Mexico will also export cars to countries other than the US, attempting to show that it won't use the Latin American country solely as a way to cheat US workers out of a job. He also reminded the president that BMW’s largest production facility still lies within US borders. So far, it appears that none of the barriers BMW has to cross will affect its upcoming models, so at least be thankful for that.