BMW is set to delay the development of the next-generation Mini hatch due to uncertainty over Britain’s trade relations with the European Union after Brexit and a need to cut costs, according to reports.
The third generation of the revived hatchback was launched in 2014, and a new version had been due to arrive in 2022 or 2023.
But BMW spokesman Maximilan Schoeberl said that the new model would now be delayed. The current Mini is built on BMW’s UKL1 platform, and Reuters quoted Schoeberl as saying: “The lifespan of this platform has been extended. For cost reasons and because of Brexit.”
Most examples of the Mini hatch, including the new electric version, are built at the BMW Mini plant in Oxford, although many of the parts used are imported from the European Union. While Britain has now left the EU, the current trading rules will remain in place until the end of 2020 while a new deal is negotiated - which could potentially include tariffs on goods crossing the border.
The Mini hatch, along with a number of other Mini and BMW models, is built under contract at the VDL Nedcar factory in the Netherlands, and BMW has repeatedly stated that it could move production away from Britain if a future UK-EU trade arrangement includes significant tariffs on exports.
When it arrives, the next-generation Mini hatch is set to shrink in size, and will shift from UKL1 to a yet-to-be-confirmed new platform, which is likely to be either BMW’s FAAR architecture or a new one understood to be in development with Chinese firm Great Wall.
Switching to a new platform would require significant investment to upgrade the current Mini production lines in both Oxford and the Netherlands, at a time when BMW is trying to make substantial cost savings to free up resources to invest in electric, connected and autonomous vehicle technology.
BMW is in the process of dramatically cutting vehicle development costs and slashing the number of engine and gearbox combinations it offers in a bid to lower costs.