Mini could build electric vehicles in North America in the second half of the decade as the BMW Group-owned brand seeks to increase the competitiveness of its models in the US.
According to sources briefed on the plans cited by Automotive News, a Mini electric crossover could go into production at BMW’s central Mexico plant in the second half of the decade. The factory in San Luis Potosi currently makes the BMW 2 Series and 3 Series sedans, along with the iX3 electric SUV.
One of the sources said the new Mini model will share the same platform as the future 3 Series EV and its crossover sibling, a strong suggestion that Mini will get access to the Neue Klasse EV architecture. For now, it’s unclear whether Mini has already made the decision to build the electric crossover in Mexico or not; a company spokesperson declined to comment.
If the report is accurate, that would help Mini further diversify beyond its plant in Oxford, England. The new Mini Countryman – including its all-electric variant – is due to begin production in Germany in November 2023, while Mini will also start making EVs in China later in the year as part of a joint venture with Great Wall Motor.
The British brand will build the next-generation Cooper Electric and a crossover based on the Aceman Concept in China.
Obviously, having a model built in North America will allow Mini to claim up to $7,500 in US federal tax credits and therefore lower the vehicle’s starting price. Manufacturing a crossover in Mexico would also make even more economic sense for the brand as Mini faces a 27.5 percent tariff on every vehicle it might want to import from China.
Building a crossover in Mexico would also be in tune with Mini’s recent strategy to pivot to larger, crossover-type vehicles to increase sales in the US, where its lineup of small cars hasn’t broken any sales records in recent years.
In addition, North American production would allow Mini dealers to meet US demand more efficiently. Finally, building a new model in Mexico would help parent company BMW Group increase utilization at its underemployed factory in San Luis Potosi.
The plant, which opened in 2019, operates at just 32 percent utilization, according to AutoForecast Solutions, compared to 99 percent capacity for BMW Group’s other North American factory in Greer, South Carolina. The German automaker announced in February an $878 million investment to build Neue Klasse EVs and battery packs in San Luis Potosi.