BMW may buy Honda’s UK factory
BMW's X1 SUV accounts for over 1/10 of the brand's global sales.

BMW may buy Honda’s UK factory

30th Mar 2019 9:00 am

Heavy global demand for BMW’s X1 and other models, and lack of extra capacity at its Oxford Mini plant, could see the company acquire the Japanese carmaker’s Swindon plant.

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BMW is experiencing a booming demand for its X1 SUV, among other models, as a result of which it is looking at transferring more car production to the UK. According to our sister publication, Autocar UK’s, sources, the German carmaker is considering taking over the Honda plant in Swindon.

The Honda factory is currently scheduled to close in 2021 when production of the Civic ends, but sources understand that BMW is in discussions to take on the site after that date. BMW sources have refused to comment.

There are a number of reasons that BMW is said to be looking closely at expanding its operation in the UK, including the highly integrated production system already in place here.

BMW builds Minis, which are based on the UKL1 transverse-engine platform, at Oxford, using engines from its Hams Hall plant near Birmingham and body panels from its pressing plant near Swindon.

Currently, BMW also contracts Mini production to the VDL Nedcar factory in the Netherlands. Last year, VDL said output rocketed from 1,69,000 cars in 2017 to more than 2,00,000, due to the launch of the new BMW X1 that’s based on the same architecture as the Mini family.

Demand for the X1 is very strong, accounting for more than 13 percent of all global BMW sales. Autocar UK recently revealed that some 1 Series production could be moved to the UK, a car BMW sold around 2,00,000 units of globally last year.

Another clue that BMW is preparing to re-allocate UKL production appears on the VDL company website, where it states it expects fewer orders from BMW next year and, perhaps, in the years beyond that. The company has reduced its flexible workforce by more than 1,000 employees.

BMW has also obtained outline planning permission to extend its Swindon pressing facility.

BMW insiders remain tight-lipped, admitting only that “some reorganisation” is being considered at Mini Oxford.

With BMW selling around 6,87,000 UKL1-based cars last year – made up of the 1 Series, 2 Series, Mini, X1 and X2 – basing much of this in one place would make huge financial sense, as well reducing the length of supply lines post-Brexit.

Autocar UK understands the Oxford plant is currently running flat out, hitting a daily production rate of 1,100 cars.

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