BMW has said it is thinking twice about making electric Mini cars in the UK due to uncertainty over Brexit.
Responding to the announcement, Unite warned that the government’s plan to leave the EU single market and customs union is jeopardising the future of the automotive sector and other manufacturing industries.
All but two models of the iconic Mini brand, which was bought by BMW in 1994, are made in the UK.
Despite having a UK base for Mini operations, BMW confirmed that the first battery-powered Mini, set to go on sale in two years time, may not be built in the UK.
The German carmaker said the decision on where to build the new Mini will be made later this year.
BMW spokeswoman Emma Begley said: “The result of the EU referendum creates uncertainty for the automotive sector in general and for overseas investors in particular.
“Uncertainty is not helpful when it comes to making long-term business decisions. It’s too early to know the outcome of the negotiations.”
Begley gave assurances that it will be “business as usual” at BMW’s four other UK plants and said the company was committed to working in Britain.
Unite assistant general secretary, Tony Burke, said the union is developing a strategy to ensure that the production of electric and autonomous vehicles, as well as the technology associated with them, is situated in the UK.
“It is essential for the future of our auto industry that the research, development, production and maintenance of electric vehicles and battery technologies are based in the UK.”
Burke said the government’s plans to leave the single market and the customs union was endangering the future of the automotive sector and other industries.
“Unite continues to warn that the government’s drive to a hard Brexit – with the UK outside of the single market and the customs union – will have a damaging effect on UK manufacturing and our car industry as well as on future investment,” Burke said.
“We are seeking immediate assurances that BMW’s commitments to its UK plants will be upheld and the government backs our successful car industry for the long term.”