Two EU countries announce plans to invest in UK

2 August 2017


Two EU countries have announced plans either to manufacture in the UK or open a base here.

German car manufacturer, BMW, confirmed that it will build the new fully-electric version of the Mini at its Cowley plant in Oxford in 2019 while Danish electrical company, Scanel International, announced that it will open its first UK office in Hull.

The BMW decision has been hailed by the government as a vote of confidence in its vision to make the UK the world’s ‘go-to-place’ for the next generation of vehicles.

BMW says Cowley will be the main production location for the three-door model Mini while the electric motor will be built in Germany before being shipped to the UK for assembly.

About 360,000 Minis are made each year, with more than 60 per cent built at Oxford, but the latest decision follows BMW creating an alternative manufacturing base in the Netherlands because of concerns about Britain's suitability as an export hub after Brexit.

BMW said it had neither sought nor received reassurances from the UK on post-Brexit trading arrangements after the government faced questions about "support and assurances" given to Nissan before the company announced that new versions of its Qashqai and X-Trail would be made in the UK.

UK business secretary, Greg Clark, who met BMW's head of sales and marketing at the company's Munich HQ in January and March, said BMW's announcement is a vote of confidence in government plans to make Britain "the go-to place in the world for the next generation of vehicles" as part of its bid to became a global trade centre.                      

However, a professor of industry at Aston University, David Bailey, says that the real test of the global car industry's desire to invest in the UK will come after 2018 when several big car companies, including Vauxhall, are to announce new models, with re-designed chassis.

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire and Humber, the decision by Scanel International, which provides electrical support to the international marine, offshore, oil, gas and wind industries, to open and office was made so it can move staff closer to its four current UK projects.

The relocation was supported by the Green Port Growth Programme and the Regional Growth Fund (RGF). Initially, one person will be based in Hull but Scanel hopes to expand as it secures more contracts to add to work it is carrying out for companies including DONG Energy, Siemens and others.

Scanel International key account manager–wind, Ove Bolander Johansen, said: “We tested the water with a satellite office in Billingham, but found Hull the perfect location for our first fixed base, as it is right on the Humber, at the heart of the UK’s emerging offshore wind sector.

“It’s also equidistant to Lowestoft and the wind farms off the east coast, Newcastle and Scotland. We’re also carrying out work at Hornsea which is a large project for us, so it’s great to be so close.”

Chamber International director, Tim Bailey, says: “While these two commercial decisions by EU countries may not tell us a great deal about the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, they underline that European companies have confidence in the UK as a place to do business.” 


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